A first-time participant in Santa Ynez Valley Restaurant Weeks is Herold Welch, owner and chef of the Caribbean eatery, Hummingbird Restaurant Caribbean Cuisine, located at 453 Atterdag Road in downtown Solvang. 

Originally from the island of Barbados, he moved to the Valley two years ago from the Santa Barbara area. Not long after arriving, a neighbor, knowing his chef skills, offered Welch an opportunity to rent the Hummingbird's current location.

"I was going through a sort of depression at the time, so I sat on the idea for four or five months before agreeing to move forward with it," Welch recalled. 

He sprang into action and put down the first and last month's rent as a commitment to himself, he said. The only problem was, Welch didn't know what to call his restaurant or what foods to create.

"I have a lot of influences from many different chefs, and I wanted to capture all of it," he said.

And he was able to do so with inspiration from his island roots.

"Where I am from, the dishes I prepare are usually cooked in fat. But I cut the fat out."

With his passion to stay close to home with fresh, exotic dishes like curries, chutneys, jerk chicken and plenty of fruits, vegetables and spices, he's made it his personal mission to keep the local community healthy as well. He explained that he has successfully managed his own journey to health over the last 20 years and aims to be an ambassador for wellness. 

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And as far as the name goes: "The name 'Hummingbird' gives me the leverage to be creative. Hummingbirds can go anywhere," said Welch.

Hummingbird's 3-course Restaurant Weeks menu:

  • Coconut pumpkin soup (vegan)
  • Jerk chicken with rice and roasted sweet potato OR a sweet, nutty lentil dish, 'chana dal'
  • For dessert, sweet potato pie

Hummingbird will honor the $20.19 special menu six days a week, Wednesday through Monday, during Restaurant Weeks.

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Lisa André covers Valley Life for Santa Ynez Valley News. Follow her on Twitter @LAndreSYVNews.