The Hill Barons' Kitchen
High spirited, intelligent and spicy, this is the delicious story of Pacomino Oakley always called Paco. Leading an unbridled lifestyle among the rich and famous, he stumbled into a plot that exposed his true identity, all while uncovering his artistic talents and following a path to solve the puzzle of his mysterious first love.
Born into a family of noted stonemasons and artisans imported from Italy for their remarkable skills, he grew up watching the creation of multi-million dollar estates, sitting like castles on the verdant soft summits of Santa Barbara and Montecito, California in the 1920's.
The boy had an inauspicious birth secreted away in the beginning since his rolling stone of a father evaporated upon knowledge of his coming. Paco was the only thing that made his Mother’s beautiful mahogany-colored eyes sparkle with joy. She sang to him in Italian, fed him tenderly from her large perfect breasts and made him darling baby dresses of vintage lace with satin bows. She taught him to dance and to paint on a big white china platter in strawberry jam with his tiny fingers.
Given all this loving attention Paco’s eyes sparkled too, just like hers, with an adorable little crinkle at the outside corners that gave the impression he was always smiling. His soft brown curls matched his eyes and sprang out in ringlets that his Mother made perfect by wrapping strands around her fingers.
The boy grew to a man, still painting, only now with fine sable brushes, with the same crinkly laughing eyes but the curls were carefully oiled to lay stark and flat with a part down the center according to the current fashion. He moved with a graceful agile gait, athletic and suntanned, a bearing unique to California. While he worked he wore a handsome uniform of dark blue lightweight serge with small brass buttons and epaulets. Paco’s trousers were slim tan jodhpurs and he was finished with a pair of dutifully polished sable knee high boots. He put on a fresh white shirt each day and an Eaton tie peeked out of his collar.
A breed of super wealthy Americans, called “The Hill Barons”, were Paco’s patrons, the ones, Diehls, the foremost gourmet market in the region, handled with kid gloves. Earnestly searching the globe for their requests, Paco supplied the fabulous kitchens where all was converted to luxurious dining, extravagant parties and exquisite events.
At 6:00am each morning Paco always stocked a fine highly polished black truck displaying the famous Diehls trademark in gold script on the side. The world's best fresh food and culinary delicacies were fulfilled, following the orders of a wild, eccentric and often hilarious assortment of Chefs and cooks.
Follow the fireworks aboard an infamous gambling ship and experience the opening of Santa Barbara's prized Biltmore Hotel. Be entertained by the steady stream of notables, from Lindbergh and Chaplin to sexy starlets of the silver screen who flood the Santa Barbara social scene with excitement, celebrity and scandal.
An ardent lover of the richness and artistry before him, Paco dreams of studying in the Academy del Arte of Florence as he sees his complex world explode with intrigue, sensual pleasures and tangled relationships. Come and explore the “Roaring Twenties” with Paco, tasting the best of everything, and experiencing this fascinating era through his artist’s eyes.
- Sharon Stockwell, September 2012
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