Annual Taste of the Nation, featuring top celebrity chefs, takes place this Sunday May 21 at Montage

Montage Laguna Beach, the five-star, five-diamond oceanfront Laguna Beach resort, will host the 10th annual Laguna Beach Taste of the Nation For No Kid Hungry event on May 21. 

A number of celebrity chefs will come together to prepare fresh farm-to-table delicacies to further Share Our Strength’s mission to end childhood hunger in Orange County and across the nation. Event attendees will enjoy an afternoon of delectable tastings, fine wines, signature cocktails, and picturesque panoramic views of the Pacific Ocean at Montage.

In addition to delicious food and drinks, the event will feature a silent and live auction with live entertainment by the local band, The Kalama Brothers. 

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Photo by Bear Flag Photography

Celebrity chefs will cook up delicious Taste of the Nation dishes

This year’s event will be hosted by Celebrity Chef Fabio Viviani, who owns several restaurants in Italy. His most famed restaurants include Café Firenze in Moorpark,(his first North American opening), as well as Chicago favorites and celebrity hotspots, Bar Siena and Siena Tavern.

Executive Chef Craig Strong of Studio, Montage Laguna Beach’s award-winning signature restaurant, will be joined by the following talented celebrity chefs: Chef Bruce Kalman, Union Pasadena, LA; Chef Dakota Weiss, Sweetfin Poke, LA; Chef Bryant Taylor, Chianina Steakhouse, Long Beach; Chef Eric Samaniego, Michael’s On Naples, Long Beach; Chef Jason Neroni, Rose Café, Venice; and Chef Lee Smith, Executive Pastry Chef, Montage Laguna Beach.

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Photo by Bear Flag Photography

Montage provides a setting like no other

Offering proven, practical solutions, No Kid Hungry is ending childhood hunger today by ensuring that kids start the day with a nutritious breakfast and families learn the skills they need to shop and cook on a budget. No Kid Hungry is a campaign of national anti-hunger organization Share Our Strength. 

Since the campaign’s launch, No Kid Hungry and its partners have connected kids struggling with hunger to more than 500 million meals (1 in 5 kids will face hunger this year).

In 2016, this event raised enough funds for 1,800,000 meals

In 2016, Laguna Beach Taste of the Nation for No Kid Hungry raised enough to help feed children in need more than 1,800,000 healthy meals. 

Local beneficiaries include Second Harvest Orange County Food Bank and Community Action Partnership of OC.

The event is supported by national presenting sponsors Citi and Sysco®, national media sponsor Food Network, national sponsor OpenTable and local sponsors Karma Automotive, Montage Laguna Beach, Southern California Gas Company, BREAD Artisan, Epstein, Becker, Green, MacRostie Winery and Vineyards, Baja Brewing Company, Acqua Panna/San Pellegrino and Orange Coast Magazine. 

Southern California Gas Company has supported Laguna Beach Taste of the Nation for No Kid Hungry since the event began ten years ago, and will be honored as the Ten Year Anniversary Honoree.  

As contributors to the charity, guests will enjoy Celebrity Chef Tastings followed by an after party mingling with the chefs and sipping champagne from 2 – 7 p.m. A special VIP gift is included. 

Tickets may be purchased in advance for $300, or $325 at the event. 

To purchase tickets, visit

Barbara’s Column

M-o-t-h-e-r spells mother



Mother Nature. Mother lode. Whistler’s Mother. Mother of Pearl. Mother tongue. Mother Superior. Mother of all what-ever. “MOTHer.” As former Police Lt. Jim White used to say: “If it’s not one thing, it’s a mother.”

One thing for sure, Mother’s Day is never over. Their advice---good and sometimes not so good---sticks in our head. Here are some examples. 

“My mother never gave me bad advice,” said Mayor Pro Tem Kelly Boyd about his mom, Doris.

Words of wisdom he remembers: “If you are going to a party, leave before you get into trouble.”

Former Mayor Ann Christoph remembers her mother’s advice at a crucial point in her life.

“When I graduated from college as an art major, I knew I wanted to do art, but couldn’t make a living doing it, recalled Christoph. “I said maybe I should get a job at a bank and work on my art at night.

“My mother said, ‘Instead of spending the day in a bank, you should get a job related to the field you want to be in, even if it is not as good a job.”

Sande St. John says her mother taught her to always be nice to everyone. “It was both the best and the worst advice---it’s why I don’t speak out when I should.”

Disaster Preparedness Committee Chair Matt Lawson, who grew up on a farm in Connecticut, credits his mother with words to live by: “If you find yourself in a hole, quit digging.”

Former Mayor Cheryl Kinsman’s mother, Virginia Brown, was an accomplished hostess and wife of Riverside Mayor Ab Brown. She often entertained 200 guests and advised her daughter if she gave a party to make the time on the invitation no longer than two hours, because the guests will always stay longer.

Cheryl Kinsman’s mother, Virginia Little Brown

Laguna Beach Woman’s Club President Barbara Crane said the best advice given her by her mother was “Be true to yourself.”

Village Laguna founder Arnold Hano: “My mother told me to never use any bathroom other than the one at home. I never even saw the boy’s restroom in grade school.”

He still adheres to his mother’s advice. “I am a camel,” he said. 

Rosemary Swimm said her mother lived her own advice.” She told me to always be kind and think before I spoke.  Nothing bad ever came out of her mouth.”    

Rebecca Barber’s mother told her daughter that if she couldn’t say something nice, not to say anything. 

“My mother was a strong-minded women,” said architect Lance Polster. “She used to say, ‘If you made a decision, stick with it.’  She’d tell me as I was entering a crosswalk, ‘Don’t hesitate if you have made a decision, just go.’”

Police volunteer and hair stylist Nanci Nielsen’s mom advised her not to try to change anyone. 

“She was usually was talking about a man. Her worst advice: ‘Don’t worry about higher education. You are just going to get married and have children. I have dogs and fortunately a great career.”

“Work hard and play by the rules,’” was the advice given to landscape architect Bob Borthwick by his mother. “I honestly can’t think of anything she said that wasn’t good advice.”

Deputy City Clerk Cheryl Baldridge’s mom is a cheery one. “Wake up every morning and choose happiness,” she recommends.  

As for me: My mother didn’t have a lot of faith in curfews preventing her teenaged daughter from perhaps unwise activities. “There’s isn’t anything you can do at 3 a.m. that you can’t do at 3 p.m. if you really intend to do it. Just be sure of your intent.”

Also: “Observe the rules of etiquette---use the right eating utensil and no one will question what’s going on in your head.” 

But wait – there’s more. You will find advance notice of all the fun and interesting stuff for visitors or residents to do in Laguna by reading

Sunday’s Charm House Tour offers opportunity to appreciate Laguna’s unique village character

Village Laguna will offer its 45th annual Charm House Tour this Sunday, May 21, beginning at 12 noon when the first shuttle bus leaves the Festival of the Arts sidewalk.

 Sponsored by the non-profit community organization, the tour relies upon almost 100 members and non-members who give up a day to provide the broader community a special opportunity. A Village Laguna board member notes, “[This] is a chance to see what makes Laguna’s village character unique:  the charm of its diverse homes and gardens.” 

Ten to fifteen volunteers await at each of the six houses this year to answer questions, and guide the touring guests.  Also hard at work are City Council members and civic leaders who serve as bus guides. 

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Submitted photo

This lavish home offers visual delights

Scores of other volunteers behind the scene supply refreshments, marketing and publicity, greeting, recognition, and ticket sales.

According to Treasurer Richard Picheny, “Some tickets for this year’s tour are still available for $50 on sale at Copy and Print, Fawn Memories, Hotel Laguna, Cottage Furnishings, Laguna Book Store, and at EGO Salon in Monarch Bay.”  He added that a few tickets may be available for sale at the first house on the Day of the tour for $60 and “through Village Laguna’s website,”     

How the homes are selected

Selection of the tour houses begins each January and depends on the special skills of Charlotte Masarik. Again this year, access to a wide variety of houses is being offered—from the contemporary or the bungalow to the lavish home seen in the photo above.   

“This is an excellent set of homes this year,” offers Masarik. 

Laguna residents also value historic homes well cared for; this home, recently refurbished to reflect its 80-year heritage, promises to be a popular stop.

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Submitted photo

This historic home was recently refurbished to reflect its 80-year heritage

A non-profit that supports other non-profits

The proceeds from this event allow Village Laguna to fulfill its broad mission to “preserve the unique village character and cultural heritage of Laguna Beach; to foster community spirit and address social needs; and to work toward restoring and protecting our ocean and coastal habitats.”  

Funding is annually provided to the Friendship Shelter, Laguna Beach Community Clinic; La Playa and the Day Workers’ Center as part of its social obligation; and to the Bluebelt Coalition, Laguna Ocean Foundation, Laguna Greenbelt, and Laguna Canyon Foundation, and the South Laguna Community Garden in recognition of environmental efforts. Village Laguna also awards an annual scholarship to a graduating senior who has demonstrated interest and commitment to the environment and humanitarian concerns.  

Such support of other foundations and non-profits is uncommon, noted Pamela Lawrence of the Laguna Beach Community Clinic after receiving a recent donation from Village Laguna:  “It is truly remarkable that a fellow nonprofit marks the holiday season by donations to other local nonprofits!”  She concludes, “Village Laguna is indeed an amazing ‘Force’ in this town.

Snakes on a trail: Don’t panic, yeah, right!


Man has always had a precarious relationship with snakes, from the sly viper in the Garden of Eden to the serpent gods of ancient mythology. Even in the year 2017, we still have a touchy kinship with the nineteen species of snakes living in Orange County, especially rattlesnakes. And this summer, due to the rain, there’s an abundance of them.

We’re told not to panic when we encounter one, but, well, that’s not so easy. However, if we’re going to tramp around on our 22,000 acres of trails in the Laguna Wilderness Park, we’d better know how to react if we do. Over the years, I’ve seen a few, one was dead, but the others were alive and slithering.

To lessen the chance of disturbing a snake, Josie Bennett, a Restoration Coordinator with the Laguna Canyon Foundation, offers some tips: Be alert during warmer weather and in the evening when snakes are most active, never put your hands or feet where you can’t see them, wear closed-toed shoes on the trail, stick to the trail, since snakes can be hard to see in tall grass and in rock crevices, learn to identify the common species in the OC, and remember, this is their home. 

Information provided by Dr. Jorge Rubal, CEO and Medical Director of the Laguna Beach Community Clinic, confirms that snakebites are a significant problem in the US (around 5,000 snake bites are reported to the American Association of Poison Control Centers annually). Most bites are caused by rattlesnakes, water moccasins, and copperheads. 

What if the worst happens, and you or someone you’re with, is bitten? 

Dr. Rubal suggests the following procedures: First remove the patient from the snake’s territory, keep the patient warm, at rest, and immobilize the injured body part in a functional position at the level of the heart initially. Remove any rings, watches, or constrictive clothing from the affected extremity. Do not apply pressure immobilization, tourniquets, or constrictive dressings. Cleanse the wound. Withhold alcohol and drugs that may confound clinical assessment. Avoid potentially harmful therapies. 

And most importantly, transport the patient in the supine position to the nearest medical facility as quickly as possible, preferably using emergency medical services.

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Photo by Kellan Lindley

Kellan Lindley took this rather gruesome photo of a rattlesnake enjoying lunch on the Dartmoor trail last week

Dr. Rubal also advises that attempts to identify the snake should not endanger the patient or rescuer and should never delay transport to a medical facility. A digital photo taken at a safe distance may be useful. Snake parts should not be handled directly because the bite reflex may remain intact in recently killed snakes and result in additional envenomation. 

This knowledge highly reinforces the recommendation to hike with a buddy, because if the worst happens, you’re going to need a friend.

Further actions should be guided by an experienced clinician, Rubal says. 

Venomous snakebite symptoms may include local tissue damage, progressive tissue swelling, non-specific systemic effects such as nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, weakness, light-headedness, chills, bleeding, increased vascular permeability, oral paresthesia, unusual taste, altered mental status, and seizures.

It may be difficult to determine whether a snake is venomous or not. Venomous rattlesnakes have a triangular shaped head, elliptical pupils, and hollow, retractable fangs. In contrast, nonvenomous snakes have rounded heads and pupils, and lack fangs. Misidentification (particularly in emergency situations) may have potentially serious outcomes.

Here in Laguna Beach, we share our beautiful wilderness with its natural inhabitants, one species being rattlesnakes. Whether because of their contentious role in history as somehow satanic, or their appearance, we possess an innate fear of them. As the sign above says, “Give them distance and respect,” and next time I see one, I intend to do just that, and I’ll try not to panic.

Pantry Palooza promises two hours of fun and food tonight – and the bopping begins with Agave at 5

Pantry Palooza, a happy-hour fundraising event with the goal to provide free, fresh groceries to neighbors in need, takes place tonight, Friday May 19, between 5 and 7 at The White House on Coast Hwy. 

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Photo by Ron Leighton

Pantry Palooza participants had a great time in 2016

The Palooza offers plenty of fun and food, yet gets attendees home for their favorite TV shows or in time to watch the sun set. 

White House owner George Catsouras will provide delicious tray-passed goodies.

And someone will go home with one of two amazing drawing prizes: a two-night stay at the Montage and dinner at The Loft – valued at $1,600 – or a three-course dinner for two at Splashes at Surf & Sand Resort.

The band, the Agave Brothers, should be quite a draw, the organizers believe, providing live music as a backdrop to what promises to be a joyous event.

Tickets available at Guests must be 21 or older.

Dennis’ Tidbits


May 19, 2017

Think you go through highs and lows? Try being a meteorologist…

On this date in 1967 McWeather graduated from Weather School at Amarillo Air Force Base in Texas. Amarillo is way up in the Texas Panhandle where the nearest body of water was 650 miles to the Southeast, the Gulf of Mexico and it’s about 1100 miles from the Pacific Ocean. Being a lifelong beach guy since Day One, it was sure hell for the nearly six months I was there. Amarillo was a real poophole, flat and windy all the time. My salvation was that the day after graduation I flew back to Laguna for a thirty day leave and then transported to Hickam Air Force Base in Hawaii where my permanent station would be for the remaining three and a half years of my four year stint. Boy, did I ever luck out or what? In the military, any branch, you go where they assign you. There just happened to be a vacancy for the job title in Hawaii as a meteorologist in the 61st Military Airlift Wing. Thank God, I didn’t have to go to Vietnam where things there were getting uglier by the day. 

Being a meteorologist involves constant pressure, high and low pressure, that is. Across the globe, highs and lows run the show. That’s why we rely on not only satellites, but our trusty old aneroid barometers. The numbers tell everything. The numbers on the dial run from 28 to 32. And those are inches of mercury. The lower the reading the nastier the weather. When it’s 28 or below like in some of the heavier storms in the North Pacific or in hurricanes in the tropics, look out! 

Some lows in the middle of winter in our hemisphere can register as low as 27.50 inches, which is equivalent to a Category 4 or 5 hurricane. Readings are also indicated by millibars. One millibar translates to about 3 inches of mercury so 1000 millibars is 29.50 inches of mercury, 1001 millibars is 29.53, 1002 millibars is 29.56 and so on. The lowest barometric reading ever recorded was a Category 5 hurricane over the Florida Keys in September, 1935 with a central pressure of 892 millibars or 26.34 inches of mercury. 

Like aforementioned, the barometer here in So Cal. doesn’t change drastically from day to day, usually hovering between 1010 and 1025 millibars (29.80-30.25), but if you travel a thousand miles or so to the north you’re in the cyclone belt where most of your incoming Pacific lows make landfall. The barometer can sink 60-80 inches of mercury in less than 24 hours. The famous nor’easters off the New England Coast can get down to 28.20 or lower in the strongest systems, but Category 5 hurricanes see the lowest pressures on the planet in their core. The only thing that comes even close is the pressure inside of an EF-5 tornado. I was close enough to an EF-5 twister in Amarillo where my ears popped from the change in pressure.

The higher number on the barometer, usually 30.00 inches or more indicates fair weather and anything above 30.50 means extremely dry weather with no cloudiness except for a few cirrus and definitely no precipitation. Humidity levels can go as low as 3-5 percent. Take notes, there’ll be a quiz in the morning. 

Have a great weekend, it’s supposed to be warm, ALOHA!


Shaena Stabler and Stu Saffer are the co-owners. Shaena is the Publisher and Stu is the Editor-in-Chief.

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