Santa Monica’s Culinary Scene Shines Across the Pond at Abergavenny Food Festival

Posted September 27, 2019

Chef Mary Sue Milliken highlights sustainability and more at events in United Kingdom

WALES, United Kingdom (September 23, 2019) – Santa Monica’s status as a leading culinary destination was on full display this weekend “across the pond” as prominent Los Angeles-based Chef Mary Sue Milliken participated in the Abergavenny Food Festival.

With a groundbreaking, nearly 40-year career, Chef Milliken is best known for Border Grill restaurants, trucks, and catering, which she runs with her business partner Susan Feniger. For 26 years, the Santa Monica Border Grill served as a backbone for the pair’s culinary efforts, setting stage for the Food Network show Too Hot Tamales.

This fall, the chef duo is elevating their culinary efforts to new heights with their new concept Socalo, located in Santa Monica. The all-day California canteen and Mexican pub is inspired by SoCal’s local ingredients and a Zócalo, the main plaza and public gathering space of a Mexican town. The chefs will serve conscientiously sourced, seasonal SoCal Mexican fare.

Chef Milliken is known internationally for her culinary innovation with sustainability at its core and uses her platform to support access to nutritious food for all, and a regenerative food system. She discussed these topics, along with gender parity in the culinary world as part of the “Rise of #MeToo in the Kitchen Panel” at the Abergavenny Food Festival, a renowned event attracting 30,000 foodies, farmers, chefs and journalists annually.

“Santa Monica has shaped many of my ideas and strategies around supporting a food system that is regenerative,” said Chef Milliken. “From to-go supplies to composting, recycling and local sourcing with respect to the planet– Santa Monica is demonstrating sustainable possibilities for all communities. I’m excited to share our progress globally.”

The City of Santa Monica is recognized worldwide as a role model for sustainability. This past January, the city passed the most comprehensive single use plastic ban for any city on the west coast of the United States, implementing new rules that require food establishments to distribute food and beverages with marine degradable food service products.

Santa Monica was also the first city to sign onto the Cool Foods Campaign, educating the public about how food choices can affect global warming and empowering them with resources to reduce this impact and abide by the following principles – eat organic, reduce conventional meat and dairy consumption, avoid processed foods, buy local and in season and prevent food waste.

“Travelers from the United Kingdom have long had an affinity for our beach city (and us for them), attracted by our stunning coastline, healthy culinary offerings and focus on green travel,” said Misti Kerns, President/CEO of Santa Monica Travel & Tourism (SMTT).

“The United Kingdom is the top international feeder market for hotels in our city and we are thankful that Chef Milliken has been able to highlight the world-class and award-winning culinary scene that travelers find here, while serving as such an integral ambassador for of our welcoming and diverse city.”

Hailed as a champion of sustainability in the food industry, Chef Milliken implements a wealth of sustainable practices in her kitchens. She believes a diet of plant-based food is best for optimal health and builds meals consisting of 80% vegetables and 20% protein while working to eliminate food waste. Milliken operates her kitchens with an eye toward protecting the environment, including use of organic fruits and vegetables, meats grown without antibiotics, and lesser-known varieties of sustainably caught seafood.

“Chefs have a spotlight and are trusted,” added Chef Milliken. “We can make a difference in how we present food – changing menus changes lives and chefs have a responsibility.”

Following her participation in the festival, Chef Milliken is set to travel to London for a series of events including a California cooking demonstration with the London College of Hospitality and Tourism, a roundtable on Gender Parity in the Culinary Industry at Wychwood House and a dinner at the U.S. Embassy partnering with acclaimed British Chef Fergus Henderson.

For more sustainable practices used by Chef Milliken, visit


About Santa Monica Travel & Tourism
Santa Monica Travel & Tourism (SMTT) is a non-profit organization designed to increase visitor expenditures, tourism revenues and local employment opportunities through the promotion of Santa Monica as a travel destination. For travel and accommodation information or a free copy of the official Visitors Guide, the public can write to the Santa Monica Visitor Center, 2427 Main Street, Santa Monica, CA 90405; call (310) 319-6263; visit; or email Follow SMTT on Twitter (@GoSantaMonica), Instagram (@SeeSantaMonica) or Facebook (@VisitSantaMonica).

Contact: Lauren Salisbury
Santa Monica Travel & Tourism