Chinese cuisine

The former apprentice of Julia Child prepares a service for the rescue mission of Santa Barbara | Homes and lifestyle

Posted on June 2, 2022
| 4:10 p.m.

Click to view larger

Sally Ruhl cooks at 14. (Julia Child)

Chef Sally Ruhl of Santa Barbara will co-host a Chef’s Evening Dinner to benefit the Santa Barbara Rescue Mission on June 6; and on June 10 a dim sum tribute to chef Barbara Tropp cooking class.

Ruhl became Julia Child’s apprentice at age 14 and worked with her for years, but when Ruhl started working in restaurants, Child advised Ruhl not to use Child’s name as a business card until then. to have worked as a chef for 40 years.

“Julia was the most independent woman, and she worried about my own independence, that by working so closely with her I might be typecast in her image, and she wanted me to find my own voice as a cook” , Ruhl said. “And I respect the hell of Julia. But it’s been 40 years now, I found my voice a long time ago, and it’s time to talk about my time working with Julia.

On June 6, Ruhl, along with Chef Justin West, will prepare a multi-course prix-fixe dinner called Chef’s Night Out, hosted by the Handlebar Cafe. The menu will include Chef West’s rabbit terrine, ravioli and his watermelon salad.

Ruhl will nod to Chinese food expert Barbara Tropp, another of Ruhl’s mentors, whipping up several dim sums, including Prawn and Crab Siu Mai and Chinese Steam Cakes. Wine and beer are included. For tickets, click here.

“It’s our [Ruhl and West] second handlebar dinner, and we plan to continue doing them on the first Monday of every month,” Ruhl said. “Aaron and Kim want to organize events for the community. The last one was epic, we had such a great time.

On June 10, Ruhl will teach a hands-on dim sum class at Apples to Zucchini Cooking School. “I should name the class, My Tribute to Barbara [Tropp]because she was the one who taught me how to cook Chinese food,” Ruhl said. “I was so lucky to learn from one of the best.

“Dim sum translates to “so close to the heart”, because dim sum is, by nature, a cuisine that brings people together, both in its preparation and in the sharing around the table. I think it’s perfect for the times, people crave social situations.

“The course will be very practical,” Ruhl said. “Students will learn how to make several kinds of dim sum from scratch, from preparing the toppings, to wrapping and steaming the dumplings and cakes, to making the accompanying sauces.”

Ruhl will also teach students how to make good Chinese tea, a traditional accompaniment to a dim sum meal. White wine will accompany dinner in the Apples to Zucchini Garden.

“I’m really excited about Sally’s dim sum night,” said Julia Cushing, who runs Apples to Zucchini Cooking School partnership programs. “When Sally taught us about Child’s Roast Chicken during Julia Child Week and shared stories of their time together, everyone in the kitchen was completely captivated.

“Now we have a rare opportunity to learn dim sum from this great chef and storyteller.” For tickets, visit

This summer, Ruhl will guide students through Santa Barbara’s Tuesday Farmer’s Market, chatting with farmers, buying seasonal groceries, then heading to the Apples to Zucchini kitchen, where she will teach students how to prepare meals inspired by the market.

“That’s what I used to do with Julia, follow her to the market, listen to her talk to farmers and learn about local foods. But now, 40 years later, I will be the one leading the students. I can’t wait,” Ruhl said.