ryan whyte-buck, chef
An Ojai native, Ryan honed his culinary skills in Portland, Oregon before heading out to New York where he was most recently chef of Golda. Now that Ryan is back home on the Central Coast, he’s crafting a creative menu for Cafe Ana that captures California’s global influences with the region’s bright and fresh produce offerings.
After college, Ryan moved to Portland, Oregon to hone his culinary skills. He worked his way up from line cook and earned the roll as Sous Chef on the opening team of Ox under Greg and Gabi Denton. “It was a game changer for me”, says Ryan, “Ox was my first restaurant opening and Greg and Gabi introduced me to a world of techniques, ingredients and creative expression. That first year we won the Oregonian’s Best Restaurant Award and I knew that partly belonged to me, it showed me that I was good at what I do.”
Ryan, an Eagle Scout, attributes his leadership skills to his time with the Boy Scouts. There he learned the importance of teamwork, focus, perseverance, and respect and he brings these traits with him to the kitchen.
Ryan believes that food and hospitality are the key things that bring people together and is inspired by the joy of making his guests happy.
julian sanders, owner
A third-generation Santa Barbaran, Julian found his passion for hospitality working in his father’s hotels while in high school. After graduating from University of Denver with a degree in Hospitality Management, he went on to work at some of the industry’s finest establishments like the Montagna Restaurant at the Little Nell Resort in Aspen, Colorado, and Restaurant Gary Danko in San Francisco.
Now, on the cusp of opening his first restaurant, Cafe Ana, Julian looks back fondly at the path he paved. “I always knew I’d end up back in Santa Barbara,” he says, “I left understanding that eventually all these experiences were going to lead me back here and, now, I want to create a space that captures the best of all these great places I’ve crossed paths with but in a way that’s perfect for our town.”
Julian is also an alumni of the Culinary Institute of America’s Accelerated Wine and Beverage program and is a Level II Certified Sommelier through the Court of Master Sommeliers. Julian will oversee the Beverage Program at Cafe Ana. He plans to implement a rounded selection of wine and beer to complement the menu and community.
Julian’s hospitality style blends five-star decorum with warm familiarity and he believes that good service is not limited to fine dining.
katherine guzman sanders, owneR
For Katherine what started off as a fun part-time job while in school blossomed into a lifelong passion. Her varied background touches just about every facet of the hospitality industry from restaurants to hotels, a winery, and even spas. She earned her bachelor’s degree in English at UCLA and, after, ventured to Florence, Italy to study Food Communications. She worked towards becoming a food writer with internships at The Santa Barbara Independent and San Francisco Magazine before eventually landing a position as a publicist at Wagstaff Worldwide, a nationally acclaimed hospitality marketing and public relations agency.
Each step along the path led Katherine to fall deeper in love with what she realized was the core of the hospitality world: creating experiences. Whether she was guiding a vineyard tour in the Napa valley or setting up rose petals in a hotel room, she enjoyed the process as much as the final outcome.
“There is something so wonderful about knowing you contributed something positive to someone’s day and, in the hospitality world, we have the special ability to do that for people, even in the smallest ways,” says Katherine, “so opening our own space where we can do this every day for our guests will be the ultimate dream come true.”
Katherine believes the first impression is the most important impression and that everyone should be treated as a VIP.