Cambrian: Opinion

‘Men of Cambria’ cook up fundraiser for Greenspace

Twenty-seven men from Cambria share their favorite recipes in a book that’s a fundraiser for Greenspace — The Cambria Land Trust.
Twenty-seven men from Cambria share their favorite recipes in a book that’s a fundraiser for Greenspace — The Cambria Land Trust.

One of the fascinating aspects of directing an environmental nonprofit is seeing how creative people can be in supporting your work. Like most organizations that look to private donors and grant funds, Greenspace — The Cambria Land Trust has been able to carry out many projects over the years through funding from individual members and friends, private foundations and public agencies.

Among those projects are the purchase of the parcels that make up Strawberry Canyon, where locals and visitors can now walk in an intact Monterey pine forest and wild creatures and birds can pass safely through a migration corridor extending into adjacent conservation lands. Another project is the beautiful Creekside Reserve in the East Village, with its restored Chinese temple. This property was purchased entirely with private funds within six years of negotiating the purchase. Still other lands have been donated outright.

Our ongoing Environmental Field Education Program with Santa Lucia Middle School and the new Monterey pine propagation and reforestation project with the high school’s horticulture program are both made possible by generous grants, the first from the Harold J. Miossi Charitable Trust and the second from the Cambria Community Council. Still others, such as the Santa Rosa Creek Watershed Management Plan and multiple fish passage and creek bank restoration projects, have been funded by county and state agency grants.

Now, a new and very creative source of support for the land trust and environmental education work of Greenspace has appeared in the form of a beautifully written, designed and photographed cookbook. “Men of Cambria Cook” is the unique idea of Victoria Krassensky in collaboration with local designer and photographer Craig Loud. It showcases the culinary skills, favorite recipes, and varied lives of 27 multitalented and culturally diverse men who call this community home.

Roasters, bakers, barbeque specialists and exotic drink mixers — the talented cooks are also fascinating people. They represent the arts, industry, technology, biology, the military, architecture and ecology; they are young and old (12 to 86 years), folksy and urbane, conservative and liberal. Whether they cook by necessity or passion, with old family standards or newfound discoveries, they all share a common love for culinary exploration and creating food that delights their families and friends.

Victoria Krassensky’s vision for “Men of Cambria Cook” blossomed from more than 20 years of observing the lives of Cambria’s men. The foreword explores her understanding of why this village has attracted such a talented and eclectic group of enigmatic men, and why so many of them love to cook. According to the author, the book provides a “small window” into life in our village. “Cambrians,” she notes drily, “are different.” She observes that we are “loving and generous to each other, cantankerous and opinionated. Just go to a town meeting at the Vets Hall and you will be treated to loud opinions, laughter, anger, jokes and sympathy.” The book includes each cook’s biography, tracing his interest in food back to its roots, and captures the essence of Cambria’s special character.

Above all, our town is a place where people pursue their passions. And, in the case of these 27 men, one of the greatest is cooking. This cookbook is not only a treasury of great recipes. It also contains wonderful stories about interesting lives and what drew each man to this complex little town that seems to reflect in its character both the peaceful hills and the turbulent ocean that border it. The special beauty of the place is clearly depicted in photographs by Craig Loud that grace nearly every page of “Men of Cambria Cook.” More than 400 riveting images of local landscapes, beautifully prepared food and the cooks themselves make this a page-turner that is fun just to curl up and read, even before you begin using the mouth-watering recipes.

“Men of Cambria Cook’s” recipes range from starters, soups, salads and entrees, to sauces, sides, breads, desserts and cocktails. There are dishes for meat-eaters and for vegans, featuring such recipes as, for just a few examples, Sammy Pippert’s Grilled Swordfish with Avocado Butter, Al Curtice’s Ayurvedic Six Taste Lasagna, Ronn Harsh’s Slow Roasted Smoked Pork Ribs with Sweet Goo, Ryan Kasper’s Egg White Omelette, which originated as a Mother’s Day breakfast surprise, Tim Mayer’s Lavender Lemontini, and Ian McLaughlin’s lighter-than-air Pavlova. And so many more!

All proceeds from “Men of Cambria Cook” benefit Greenspace — The Cambria Land Trust. For 30 years, Greenspace has served the land and people of San Luis Obispo County’s north coast by permanently protecting from overdevelopment several forested areas, creekside land, historic and archaeological sites, and habitat for native species. We offer environmental education programs for all ages and advocate for ecologically sound public policies. The book is available now at the Greenspace office, 4251 Bridge St., Linn’s Gourmet Goods, Matter of Taste, Cutruzzola’s and Moonstone Cellars. Additionally, Victoria and Craig will sign copies at the Celebration of Authors at the Vets Hall, 1000 Main.

Speaking of events and beauty and wonderful food, the Greenspace Art & Adventure Dinner & Auction will take place from 5 to 9 p.m. July 22 at the Creekside Reserve, 2264 Center Street and Robin’s Restaurant at Center and Burton. Tickets are selling fast and may be purchased by calling 805-927-2866 or emailing New artists and exciting new adventures are feature this year — don’t miss this highlight of Cambria’s summer season!

The Greenspace column appears quarterly and is special to The Cambrian. Email Greenspace at or visit the website