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Santa Barbara Tea Fire

Last Thursday night, a large wildfire erupted on the hillside about two miles from my Montecito residence. I was on my way home from the supermarket a little after 6 p.m. and saw it blazing on the hill. My first thought: “The power better not go off while my wedding cakes bake … that could be a disaster.” Priorities, right? But seriously, to have to re-bake a cake that will serve thirty people? What a waste of Madagascar Vanilla deliciousness! As the night wore on and we saw the fire expanding from our front porch, fear began to creep in. If the winds decided to turn, my home could ignite as quickly as the Rum-glazed shrimps that I Brule-d last year (that ended up on fire in the middle of the kitchen floor, but that is another story). I had remained calm for several hours, sure that the fire would be quickly contained, but then turning the television to CNN and getting a call from my dad in New Mexico told me that the fire—and story about the fire—were spreading more quickly than I thought (not to mention the neighbor alerting us that everyone else on our street was evacuating).

Okay, think, Camille, think! If I only have four minutes to save my stuff, what do I save? First, the wedding cakes, six in total, followed by three bowls of frosting, and the bag of filling ingredients. Check. My collection of favorite cookbooks (Tyler Florence, Big Yellow Gourmet Cookbook, Moosewoods, Gluten-Free Bible, etc.), my aprons, my knives, food processor, favorite sauté pan, and spices collected from around the world. Okay, I am feeling a little better now that these have been safely evacuated to my car (I wouldn’t be telling the whole story if I failed to tell you that I also evacuated my entire closet of clothes, about seven trash bags worth … minor detail). I decided not to leave since we still had power and there wasn’t any smoke coming in our direction, thanks to opposite-blowing winds, and The Office was about to start. Hey, if the fire is going to melt the TiVo, better get one last episode in, right?

So to make a long story short, I stayed at home all night and in the end, the fire missed me. Unfortunately, it did not miss my client’s neighborhood and they were evacuated for several days. The fire passed my clients home as well, and they are back safe and sound. Everyone else on their street was not so lucky. All told, the fire destroyed over 200 homes and many thousands of acres of beautiful Santa Barbara landscape. All because a couple kids decided to have a bonfire. Big bummer.