Executive Chef and Owner/Partner S.Y. Kitchen


Chef Luca Crestanelli was born and raised in Verona, Italy where he received his Gastronomy and Culinary Arts degree. Luca’s career has taken him across the globe which has not only increased his language fluency but has also refined his epicurean sensibilities through exploration and hands-on discovery of regional cooking traditions throughout the world.


In 2002, Chef Luca arrived in the United States to work at Vincenti in Brentwood, California under the tutelage of renowned Chef Nicola Mastronardi. After three years, looking to expand his horizon, he accepted a position as a private chef. For the next six years, Luca traveled extensively, exposing himself to a variety of culinary cultures. He discovered age-old methods and cooking techniques as well as ingredients and recipes from each town and village he visited. All the while, he honed his personal style of creating authentic local cuisine honoring traditional Italian dishes.


In 2010, Luca was invited by the Gordon family, owners of Brentwood’s famed Toscana, to become executive chef, and launch their new Bar Toscana. Luca was challenged to create an inspired menu for a restaurant/bar concept that would complement their innovative craft cocktail and wine program.


Several years later Crestanelli learned about an old farmhouse/restaurant that had become available in downtown Santa Ynez. He had always envisioned himself creating a rustic restaurant, sourcing his products from local fisherman, ranchers, farmers and vintners, and infusing his Italian style with a rural sensibility. Chef Luca pitched the idea to Toscana owners Mike and Kathie Gordon. Already residents of Santa Ynez, they enthusiastically embraced the idea and partnered with him to create S.Y. Kitchen in 2013. S.Y. Kitchen opened to rave reviews from locals and visitors from around the country. Chef Luca states, “This concept of ‘farm to table’ is too obvious for me. Of course, we’re surrounded by all of these fresh, local ingredients, why wouldn’t we go directly from the field to the kitchen? There is no other way of preparing brightly flavored, fresh food; I believe it’s my purpose in life.”


Chef Luca thrives on keeping the restaurant fresh with new ideas. Within a few years, he and his team added The Courtyard, for relaxed outdoor dining under the warm Santa Ynez sky.  Recently he opened The Plenty Terrace for private events and additionally created another kitchen, perfect for offsite catering events.


Chef Luca lives close by in Ballard with his wife Pearl and two young daughters, Violet and Josephine. When he’s not in the kitchen, he loves to spend time in the majestic outdoors visiting the infinite beauty and bounty offered around the Santa Ynez Valley and the Central Coast.












1110 Faraday Street in Santa Ynez, California   805.691.9794