Martin and Debi Testa are the proprietors of Testa Catering and Testa’s Bistro in Santa Maria. Wielding more than 30 years of experience in the food industry, they serve everything from traditional Santa Maria Style Barbecue to prime rib dinners to lobster tail, and everything in between. We recently caught up with Debi to learn more about their culinarly roots and experience with Santa Maria Style Barbecue.
Can you please describe everything Testa Catering has to offer on the Santa Maria Style Barbecue front?
The authentic Santa Maria Style BBQ dates back over one hundred years.It is a tradition and a way of life for most of us here in the Santa Maria Valley. Santa Maria BBQ sets itself apart from all other areas, by the red oak used for the coals, indigenous to the Central Coast.
Martin has been barbecuing Santa Maria Style for over 30 years. His grandfather, Lawrence Testa, and father, Sonny Testa, were part of the BBQ team from the infamous Stag nights at the Santa Maria Club. In those days, the traditional fare was top block sirloin, pinquito beans, macaroni salad and French bread and salsa.
Testa Catering has expanded on that old time favorite menu. We offer choice Top Sirloin, Rib Eye, or New York, grilled to an internal temperature of about 135 degrees. Additional entrees include barbecued chicken, turkey or fish (salmon or halibut). Our signature salad includes local fresh baby greens, tossed with a raspberry vinaigrette, topped with walnuts, feta cheese and local seasonal fresh berries. We still have plenty of requests for the traditional macaroni salad too. The traditional pinquito beans are also a favorite. Also indigenious to the Santa Maria Valley, this small pink bean is slow cooked for several hours. We add sauteed bacon and onions and seasoning. Baked Rosemary potatoes are a new addition to the BBQ and are always a crowd pleaser. Salsa tops all items. Last but not least is the grilled over red oak garlic bread. We prefer to use sourdough bread, grilled, brushed with a garlic clove and then dunked in butter with more added chopped garlic. Simply divine!
At the events you cater, you must encounter people who are enjoying Santa Maria Style Barbecue for the first time. What is a typical reaction? Are they surprised by the flavor?
We have catered all over California, bringing variations of traditional Santa Maria Style Barbecue. From ranches to castles, it is the most requested menu option. People just cannot believe how tender, juicy and perfect the meat is. They often say they have never tasted any meat as good. They are very interested in what sets a Santa Maria Style Barbecue apart from all others and vow to try it themselves.
Can you suggest one crucial tip for people who want to try preparing their own Santa Maria Style Barbecue?
If we can give out one bit of advice on perfecting your own Santa Maria Style Barbecue it would be to not overcook your meat. Start with a good, choice top sirloin, barbecue until it reaches an internal temperature of about 135 degrees, pull off the meat, and let it set for 15 minutes before slicing. Enjoy.