Barbara Zagata is the chef /proprietor of Santa Barbara Soul Food, originally an organic catering company based on teamwork and earth friendly values. In 2000, she began teaching children how to cook when asked to volunteer at her son’s school. Since then, Barbara founded Camp Cucina, “a Culinary Crash Course for Teens,” as well as other programs designed to bring families together through inspiring food choices that empower the individual while creating a sense of community.

Currently Barbara is creating a series of videos to teach young adults how to cook. In Barbara’s presentation “The Missing Ingredient,” she shares more than twenty years of culinary inspiration in a way that provides the most eco-friendly, super-tasty, sustainable, healthy, fun and easy solution to every diet-related health issue today.

When all of the programs I’ve created are fully developed and widely distributed there will be a massive shift in the culinary consciousness of this generation, namely, the millennials This shift will affect all areas of life including health and relationships. Healthy, happy people contribute more to the good of the whole. Food was just the hook!


we can change the way this generation

thinks about their food choices

SantaBarbaraSoulFood.com                   As Featured On EzineArticles                         BarbaraZagata.com

Contact: Barbara@SantaBarbaraSoulFood.com

Click the image below to view my Prezume

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From Ad Major to Organic Chef to Cooking with Kids…….How’d That Happen?!

(the short version)

A few years ago a friend asked me if I’d always aspired to be a chef?

“No!” I practically yelled, surprised by my own reaction and yet in retrospect I’d clearly been groomed for this role.

When I read a cover story on the Wall Street Journal stating that this may be the first generation in which parents outlive their children because of obesity and diabetes, I cried, and I knew it was time to quit playing small. But my culinary journey began years before this moment and my spiritual journey is what made a major course correction decades before this time.

In a tiny new age bookstore on the north side of Chicago sometime in the late 1980’s I received a message that would alter the course of my life. During an evening workshop with an urban shaman I learned the greatest achievement in life…is love.

While this may not seem like such a revelation now, it literally woke me up at the time because it came from my inner voice and being completely enmeshed in the world of sales and reading books like Peak Performance Principles for High Achievers, this concept was clearly not my own.

The next morning my best friend and I had breakfast at our favorite diner. I told her about the events of the night before and then I asked her, “What if its true? That would change everything wouldn’t it?”

A few years later I found myself at another shaman retreat. This time in California. This time I was in the kitchen. I had my own organic, vegetarian catering business. Again, I received a message that directed the course of my journey. Only it didn’t come from my little inner voice. It came from those attending the retreat. They went on and on about how great the food was, only they weren’t just talking about the flavor. They kept commenting about the energy in the food and thanking me for the love I’d put into the food. This had never happened in Chicago, but then I was only cooking for family and friends because I enjoyed it so much.

Driving home from the retreat I wondered if people really can feel the difference in food that’s grown with love and care and then prepared lovingly with a deep desire to nourish and even help heal those who partake of it. And then I thought, “maybe real food doesn’t just please our taste buds! Maybe real food nourishes our souls!” And I decided to call my new business Santa Barbara Soul Food.

Once I opened the door, word of mouth brought me all the business I needed but after a few years something really interesting changed my course again. Not a 180 degree shift like the one 10 years ago, just a little 3 degree shift that completely changed my clientele.

I began cooking with children and when children eat real food, its clear, they feel it. They literally swoon with delight. I’d seen this kind of response in my son but now I began expanding my field research.

Initially, when I observed adults getting truly excited about food,  I attributed it to the cocktail factor, but as my catering business expanded and I shared my home made* food at fundraisers and brunches I continued seeing a ripple affect in the connection that’s prompted when people eat food prepared this way.

[I kept the business small, cooking on sight with others who loved to cook as much as I did]

Later, I began teaching teens how to cook so when they went off to college or out on their own they wouldn’t be dependent on packaged, processed food. The best part of working with the older kids was witnessing their response when they tasted what they made.

During all of this, I collected articles and stories that when pieced together make it quite clear that real food does indeed nourish our souls or at the very least profoundly affects our experience.

Most notable in my research was the ability real food has to bring people into the moment. Real food has the power to make people pause. They get really present to what is, right  now. If its true that all forms of self love are found in the moment (Maureen Moss) then cooking a meal for yourself and your loved ones is one of the greatest acts of self love.

This connection is what I believe we’re truly craving. It will never be in a package. Sadly, people will eat 1000s and 1000s of calories and never feel satisfied because what they’re truly craving just isn’t in there and never will be and they need to know this now.

Its time to take charge of our health not thru discipline, deprivation and disappointing diets that don’t last, but through a life style that’s sustainable, a life style based in connection. For this reason, what I teach now, is the joy of cooking together.


Back to the bookstore—

The next day I returned to the little new age book store, hoping to find something to help clarify this idea that love was actually an achievement and not something that just happens to you, like when you fall in love. I found a little red book called Love, by Leo Buscaglia. Within its pages I highlighted something that seemed to set an intention in place. At the time, its meaning went over my head, but I highlighted it anyway; I sensed it held the clue to all of this—it said:

For love and the self are one and the discovery of either is the realization of both.

People always ask me, do you think anyone can learn to cook. I tell them, if ten year olds can make dinner for their family, anyone can learn to cook. And one more thing, if you’re really worried about whether or not it will be any good—

“The most indispensable ingredient of all good home cooking:

love, for those you are cooking for”—Sophia Loren

2 replies »

  1. Hi, I am looking to feature your articles in our digital magazine that is going National. Please contact me asap Thanks I think this blog is great!

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