Every Bowl Counts: Finch & Fork Executive Chef to Cook at Our Holiday Party

Chef James Siao, passionate cyclist and executive chef genius at Finch & Fork Restaurant in Santa Barbara, CA.

Chef James Siao, passionate cyclist and executive chef genius at Finch & Fork Restaurant in Santa Barbara, CA.

Our workshop operates very much like a kitchen.  An order is sent in, the materials are meticulously prepared and assembled, and out comes a masterpiece chosen specifically by the customer, with every element and flavor available cohesively tied together to produce a satisfying piece of art.

We first met James last week when he came in to our workshop looking to talk details about having us build him a custom road bike.  The invitation to our 2017 Collection Holiday Launch Party was just released, so naturally the event came up in conversation.  The attracting points of the party were being laid out–new paint schemes, limited edition merchandise, Telegraph Brewing Co. beer–and James promptly asked, "Do you guys have a food vendor yet?"  

Overwhelming and scattered plans tend to work themselves out.  We couldn't have hopped on the opportunity to have James cook for our Holiday Party any faster if we tried.   We're thrilled to announce that Finch & Fork Executive Chef Siao will be in attendance, selling full-sized portions of pork belly and vegetable ramen.  Come prepared for savory and delectable bowls to keep you warm for the whole night.  The proceeds will be donated back to his Chefs Cycle|No Kid Hungry campaign, in which James will ride 300 miles in 3 days to raise awareness for and bring an end to child hunger. 

With that, here is our special guest mini-interview.


Five Questions with Chef James Siao


Q:  I read that you're originally from Ohio.  How did you end up all the way in Santa Barbara?

JS:  After culinary school in Pittsburgh I traveled to Scottsdale, Arizona. During that time, I learned and trained under great chefs at a number of restaurants that lead me to Kimpton.  The company has given me many opportunities to travel and discover the west coast since I joined the team.  Just over 4 years ago I was asked to help transition our new property, the Canary hotel and Coast restaurant.  During the few weeks in Santa Barbara the community and people made a great impression on me.  Luckily was asked to stay and continue growing my career here with Finch & Fork. 


Q:  When/where did your road cycling career begin?  

JS:  My start in road cycling came by being in the right place at the right time.  We started a great program called “Tour with the Chef” at the Canary hotel, where I would take guests around town on bicycles to my favorite spots–maybe Handlebar for coffee, cheese tasting at C'est Cheese, tacos, and wine tastings.  This lead me to running into Russo, the GM of the Lark at the time, a couple years ago while grabbing some wine at Les Marchands.  He spoke of an opportunity that the sous chef was doing called Chefs Cycle for No Kid Hungry, where a group of passionate chefs and likeminded individuals ride 300 miles to raise money for a great cause, ending childhood hunger.  My assumption of “it’s like riding a bike” was very far off from reality when understanding road cycling. From the bib shorts (which took a minute to get used to but are highly needed when road cycling) I learned quickly, to the technique of cadence (I had no clue).  Now it’s been a few years and its changed my life, influencing my health and the culture.

Q:  What was your first Chefs Cycle experience like?  How do you think this year will be different?  

JS:  Definitely wasn’t easy as it was my first century let alone 3 of them in a row.  My legs were sore for weeks, but the first year was incredible and life-changing.  It was an unbelievable journey from Santa Barbara to San Diego with truly great individuals.  It challenged me physically and mentally since I was so new to cycling, especially going the distance.  The past two Chefs Cycles have been very memorable and I wouldn’t think this year should be any different with a beautiful new location in Santa Rosa.  The difference for me is the connections you make with all the riders and how we all support each other from first time riders to seasoned riders.


Q:  Fun questions.  Imagine you're going on a 50-mile ride.  What do you bring to eat?

JS:  Always prepared and thoroughly enjoyed with Honey Stinger waffles and some type of energy chew.  


Q:  The restaurant life probably takes up most of your energy, so quiet time is probably nice.  What's your favorite dish to cook for yourself at home on your nights off? 

JS:  I go with comfort and that’s usually a delicious bowl of noodles with a hot spicy broth, some vegetables, and poached egg.  Simple, quick, and rewarding.  


Looks like James will bring some of that same comfort to the Stinner Frameworks workshop for our Holiday Launch Party this Saturday evening, December 10th at 7:30pm.


We thank Chef Siao for volunteering to work with us to provide delicious meals for our event.  If you are interested in providing a donation to James for his next 300-mile journey with Chefs Cycle|No Kid Hungry, please visit the following link: