Spanish food truck comes to Santa Barbara to thank museum employees
To thank local museum employees and bring just a little bit of Spain to the city, the Tourism Office of Spain in Los Angeles brought a Tapas Truck to three locations in Santa Barbara.
Museums are just several days from reopening to the public, and staff has worked behind the scenes to ensure safety protocols can be maintained when that happens.
So the Tumaca Truck, which is known for its great sandwiches, rolled up to its first stop Thursday, the Old Mission Santa Barbara.
Featured food items offered to employees included: albondigas, which are meatballs with organic beef, garlic, breadcrumbs and milk inside with parsley and tomato sauce; patatas bravas, which are fried potatoes dusted with sweet smoked paprika and served with garlic aioli; pancontoma, which is grilled bread with Serrano Ham from Spain served with a slice of Piquillo pepper, a sweet red pepper; and both mushroom and ham croquetas, served with garlic aioli.
The master behind the authentic food was acclaimed chef Benny Bohm, a Vienna native trained in some of the finest Spanish eateries.
“Everyone looks at Spain as a great destination, but it’s got such great cultural ties to Santa Barbara, and so much of that is housed in our museums,” David Bolton, the executive director of California Missions Foundation, told the News-Press. “We have staff at these museums that have worked so hard during COVID to keep these collections vibrant, so we wanted to say thank you for keeping it alive.”
From 11:15 a.m. to 2 p.m. Thursday, the truck made stops to serve employees at the Old Mission, the Trust for Historic Preservation and the Presidio, the Santa Barbara Historical Museum, the Santa Barbara Maritime Museum, the Carriage and Western Art Museum, and Old Spanish Days Fiesta.
While the public hasn’t been able to observe and enjoy the historical artifacts, paintings, clothes, music, photos and art all these museums have held since March, employees have still been hard at work protecting, curating, preserving and conserving.
“When you bring them all together, you really see that we are a unique treasure chest of Spanish culture and history,” Mr. Bolton said.
Javier Rodriguez Mañas, the consul of Tourism Affairs for the Embassy of Spain, said he and his team, like many others, had to get creative during the pandemic.
“We had to design a project in which we bring Spain to the houses and to the places of our potential clients and, of course, of the people who love Spain,” he told the News-Press. “We like to transmit the warm, the kind, the way of life in Spain.”
As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Santa Barbara Mission suffered an estimated $1.5 million loss, according to Suzy Plott, the mission’s community development and marketing manager.
“We receive no funding from the Catholic Church and no money from the federal or state government, so we are completely self-sustaining,” she told the News-Press. “As a historical nonprofit, 85% of our revenue comes from tourism, so being closed right now for the public really critically hit us pretty hard, financially.”
She added that the Old Mission is launching a capital campaign to make up for the money lost and then some, in order to complete projects on the over 200-year-old building.
Claudia Gallardo is one of the supervisors for the Old Mission Gift Shop, and while she wasn’t furloughed in March when the pandemic first hit, the gift shop wasn’t able to open back up until June.
She said she and her coworkers’ duties have included completely rearranging the store to be COVID-19 compliant, putting items in plastic bags and making it easier to clean all the items at the end of the day. They’re also showcasing items on social media to attract customers and encourage them to shop local.
“We’re ready and excited to open the tours because that’s where we get most of the money,” Ms. Gallardo told the News-Press. “A lot of people think we get money from the state, but we’re privately owned, so we rely on the gift shop and the tours and donations from the community.”
The Santa Barbara Mission is planning to reopen tours in a week and a half in November after being closed since March.