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Laguna Beach

Real Talk hosts interactive workshop on Overcoming Prejudice & Oppression on Sept 21

On Thurs, Sept 21, from 7 – 8:45 p.m., Real Talk provides the opportunity for elevated community dialogue and an interactive workshop to discuss the topic of Overcoming Prejudice and Oppression. This is a free event, but there will be limited seating. It will be held at the Susi Q Center at 380 Third St.

The intention of the meeting is to raise awareness by taking the time to get in touch with identities and bias. In addition, the workshop offers the chance for expanded understanding, as attendees respectfully challenge stereotypes and reflect on the meaning of unity in diversity. The goal is to gain techniques and tools to build bridges in our community.

The community decided to keep this topic on the calendar as many who attended the earlier meeting wanted to continue with this issue. Participants are free to come and share or simply listen. This is a grass roots movement to help the community grow into a more connected and caring society. Those in the movement believe that resolution will occur when the heart is transformed through education. 

The meeting is sponsored by Baha’is of Laguna Beach with the Laguna Beach Interfaith Council. The workshop is facilitated by Leticia Romo, Assistant Director of Student Engineering at the Cross-Cultural Center, Chapman University.

RSVP to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Would I rue going to Roux? The answer is nooooo! Quite the opposite


In March, my son Dylan and his wife Ann, who live in Brooklyn, New York, were scheduled to meet us in New Orleans for a few quick days together – precious days, given the distance between us. 

But quirky weather cancelled their flights, making the trip impossible for them, and that left my husband Bill and me feeling quite miserable, despite the great jazz and sensational food we enjoyed on Magazine Street. 

So when I heard that Dylan and Ann were going to be able to fly to Laguna over the Labor Day weekend, and that Roux, a new Creole restaurant less than half a mile from us, had opened – and then, that our regular food columnist Laura would sadly not be able to do the Roux review (which sounds like a dance, but isn’t) – I immediately offered to write the necessary report, thinking the restaurant a thematically and gustatorily perfect choice for the four of us.

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Photo by Ann

The Chef Tyler’s Brussels sprouts were amazing

The only snag is that I’m not an observant food writer. I like almost all food, with the possible exception of poi. If someone cooks a dish for me, then I’m pretty much guaranteed to love it, no matter what. My palate does not discriminate: it welcomes all flavors equally. 

Also, because I’m not much of a cook  (though I’m famous for my cottage pie, I will say), I barely know the difference between herbs and spices. I even pronounce herbs with an audible h! Blame my South African upbringing.

Plus I seem to have writers’ block when it comes to describing food. 

I know delicious when I taste it, and that’s about it.

Fortunately my dear daughter-in-law Ann is a great cook with an excellent culinary vocabulary, and Dylan has an imaginative turn of phrase, so I turned to them for help.

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Photo by Diane Armitage

Shrimp and grits: “a Mardi Gras in my mouth”

Thus it is that I offer their observations: Dylan described his shrimp and grits starter as “a Mardi Gras happening in my mouth.”

Ann suggested that the dish tasted so celebratory because of the quality of the homemade stock and the unique, subtle blend of seasonings, including bay leaf, garlic and thyme. The shrimp were “fat and tasty, and the rice was great,” said Dylan.

“Those grits were the best I’ve ever tasted,” Ann said. Her mother is Southern, so that’s some praise indeed.

Ann also explained why I found Chef Tyler’s Brussels Sprouts so amazingly tasty. “They were cooked perfectly, charred perfectly but in such a way that they retained their soft texture inside,” she said. 

“Some chefs carry the charring too far and the Brussels sprouts arrive burned and dry. But these Brussels are nice and big and succulent and the garlic brings out the slightly bitter taste in precisely the right way,” Ann added.

(This is not how we usually talk to each other, but the occasion demanded such exchanges of information.)

The service was terrific. The ambience, too, is delightful: dark wood and fleur-de-lis décor offer Louisiana charm, while the restaurant retains the casual yet intimate and buzzy vibe of the former Café Zoolu. 

My lovely daughter-in-law was also a fan of the ratatouille. Our server, whose name I have forgotten, which is a terrible thing for a food reviewer to admit, and which is just one reason why this is very likely the last food report I will ever do, told us that “you won’t find dishes with lots of cheese and tomatoes in New Orleans cooking.”

Ann concurred, believing that the ratatouille benefited by not being dominated by tomatoes, so that the flavors of eggplant and zucchini had a chance to introduce themselves independently to the taste buds. 

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Photo by Ann

Crab presented in a shell

She was also impressed with the presentation, especially her Creole Stuffed Crab starter featuring the crab in its original shell (or a close facsimile, I cannot be sure).

“What do you think, Bill?” I asked my husband about his Roux Catfish.

“Good,” he said. “Very good!” High praise indeed, from a man who talks in superlatives only when St. Louis Cardinals’ baseball is the subject matter.

The dessert, oh, the dessert! I never allow myself dessert because of the calories, but as a food reporter, I had no choice, did I?

We tasted the cheesecake, which was fluffier and lighter than New York cheesecake – “It’s Italian style,” Ann explained.

(Dylan wasn’t talking much at this point – his mouth was fully involved, like a California wildfire. An adjunct professor now for a decade, still, when he is taken out on the town, he reverts to college-age behavior and makes the most of every restaurant meal. It warms my motherly heart.)

Then came the bread pudding. “The bourbon sauce was awesome,” Ann noted. “The texture of the pudding was just right, silky and not too eggy.”

I could only nod in agreement. My mouth, like Dylan’s ,was busy, preferring cuisine to conversation.

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Photo by Lynette

My fortunate fellow food-reviewing family pre-Roux: Bill, Dylan, Ann

A word about the wine list: Among others, it lists wines that are “interesting,” which I felt was the perfect way to stimulate diners to try a little variety.

 With our fish dishes, we drank an excellent Leth Gruner Veltliner, an Austrian wine. Ann chose a glass of Evolution Pinot Noir from Oregon to go with her Hanger Steak, her entrée, which was served on a bed of garlic sweet potatoes and which she enjoyed very much.

“Most people would find this wine a little too light to accompany steak, probably they’d order something a little more full-bodied,” she said. “For sure, it would go great with all the seafood dishes. But I love this wine.”

Just as we all loved Roux. The food is simply – what’s the word I’m looking for?

I know! Delicious! 

(I failed to realize that, as a fill-in food reporter, I was supposed to have chatted to the chef before leaving…ah well. What is true is that Chef Norm Theard’s dishes spoke to me, Dylan, and Bill loud and clear, while engaging in a more nuanced conversation with the lovely, more culinarily conscious Ann.)

Who needs to fly to New Orleans, anyway, when you can get an Uber to Roux at 860 Glenneyre?

Editor’s Note: After we’d scheduled our dinner, Diane Armitage, a REAL food writer, sent us her report, which readers will enjoy… it also gives a little more background about the owner and chef.


Ain’t No Blues at Roux!

By Diane Armitage

Obviously, the tiny restaurant space at 860 Glenneyre Street has some serious mojo going on. For years the host to Michael and Toni Leech’s well-loved Cafe Zoolu, she re-invented herself for a soft-opening last weekend with a soft-spoken Chef and a rowdy rabble of happy Laguna fans.

Now, she is Roux.

I don’t believe it’s fair to do full-fledged reviews on a new restaurant until she’s gotten her legs under her. I’ve been on the other side - the restaurant development side - too many times! No matter how great all the pieces are, and no matter how ready you think you’re going to be, the initial opening of a restaurant is just too chaotic. (Actually, it’s more like an Oklahoma tornado. You do your best to take cover and ride it out.)

So, this isn’t a review of my dining experience on the second night of Roux’s existence … it’s just an observation on what I think the future holds for Laguna’s latest culinary addition.

In short, Roux has a long and happy life ahead of her.

Significantly spruced with the glow of New Orleans about her, Roux still bears the trappings of all that has been wonderful with previous chefs there - namely, the awesome Chef’s Counter that provides an unobstructed view of imaginative food in the making. I sat myself directly across from the co-owner Chef himself and enjoyed two hours of spying on practiced greatness in action.

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Photo by Diane Armitage

Chef Norm Theard

Chef Norm Theard is a classically trained French chef, which becomes immediately apparent as you see how he runs his French-inspired kitchen - rarely do any of the cooks need to step out of their four-foot “well” of specificity and, for the most part, they work in breezy, friendly silence.

This is going to be a locals’ hang out right from the start. For one thing, longtime residents and Saloon owners Michael and Cindy Byrne are co-owners in this project and I can’t think of a person in the five-state area who doesn’t adore this couple. 

Secondly, ROUX still has enough of the old Café Zoolu vibe to assure locals that the building’s appreciation of local love is still in play. 

Chef Norm Theard lives above the shop

Thirdly, there’s Chef Norm Theard who’s relocated to Laguna Beach because he’s committed, man. In fact, he and his wife live above the restaurant now. As local restaurants go, that’s always a sign of good will and longevity.

As the onslaught of family and friends ordered every imaginable thing on the menu, the team worked methodically and quickly, producing a raft of truly innovative dishes. New friends sitting next to me ordered the Roux Salad tossed with Pork Andouille dressing (that’s a first for me).

Many people believe that a restaurant’s greatness can be decided in the tale of the soups, but when I have the option, I think a chef’s proclivity can be just as easily determined by trying his or her grits. I dug into Chef’s Shrimp & Grits appetizer, the grits melding with bay leaf, garlic, cream, thyme and Yvonne sauce (typically a popular Orleans-instituted sauce of butter whisked to brown, and then removed from heat in the nick of time for added lemon juice and red wine vinegar). Everything in the dish was perfectly cooked and just the right temperature (grits are fussy, man).

My neighbors allowed me a photo of their Hanger Steakbefore mopping the plate clean. It’s a hearty portion of grilled steak atop garlic sweet potatoes, Ratatouille (a painstaking dish in and of itself), and a drizzle of parsley butter sauce. 

Photo by Diane Armitage

Roux Catfish

Noting that this will be the item I try on my next return, I order the Roux Catfish, which claims to be Chef Norm’s favorite. (When in a Hurricane 5 soft opening situation, always opt for the Chef’s favorite.)

Chef Norm imports this catfish because it’s “lighter and sweeter” as opposed to what some would term “muddy” tasting. Personally, I think this guy could dredge the Mississippi for catfish and it would still be spectacular. Simply sautéed in olive oil and secret spices, laid on a bed of Creole rice and Ratatouille, and crowned with shrimp, lump crab and browned butter sauce, the entire entrée simply melts in your mouth.

Alas, I arrived after the Blueberry Bacon Goat Cheese Cobblerhad sold out. I settled instead for Bread Pudding with Bourbon Sauceand am sure I emerged the dessert winner of the evening.

As I said, this isn’t a formal review, just an opinion of her first howdy-do to the community. As her namesake proclaims, I think Roux is already a foundational element to Laguna’s growing culinary greatness.

Alfie is on the hunt for a loving owner to adopt him from the Animal Shelter 

Alfie is a three year old neutered white Havanese male on the look out for a new home to take him in. He’s very active and loves to go on long walks to meet other dogs. Alfie is extremely playful and would be perfect in a home with kids. He is filled with love and is excited for the new adventures that lie ahead. Nancy Goodwin, shelter director, hopes Alfie will be taken in as soon as can be.

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Alfie looking for a new owner to play with

The Laguna Beach Animal Shelter adoption procedures are designed to make sure that both the potential family and the animal adopted are in the very best situation possible. Due to their approach to adoption, their return rate is five percent as compared to the national return rate of fifty percent.


The LB Animal Shelter is located at 20612 Laguna Canyon Rd, (949) 497-3552, or go to the website for information on adoption procedures:

Remembering 911

The public is invited to a 911 Remembrance Ceremony Monday at Monument Point in Heisler Park.

Laguna Beach Fire Department Division Chief Api Weinert will begin the ceremony promptly at 8:46 a.m., the exact time that a hi-jacked American Airlines plane slammed into the north face of the North Tower of the World Trade Center.

Laguna Beach Firefighters Assn. Steward Matt Rolfe will play Amazing Grace on Bagpipes.

A Note from Lynette

Here at Stu News Laguna, we’re always looking for ways to publish the most interesting and useful Laguna-related news and views on our two Front Pages. (Please know that we always appreciate your feedback!) 

Today, in collaboration with the Garden Club, we’re introducing the first in a series: Garden of the Month – which, it turns out, will be as much about the gardener as the garden – because we believe that Lagunans care about their yards and love to learn about new ways to improve their homes – plus we always find great pleasure in seeing what others in the neighborhood are doing to beautify our lovely town. 

You’ll find our first Garden of the Month feature on the Second Front Page just beneath Samantha Washer’s terrific Laguna Life & People column, about two star supporters of the Boys and Girls’ Club.

If you have a garden you’d like to nominate, just let us know at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. and we’ll share it with Lynn Jax, president of the Garden Club, and place it into consideration for the Garden of the Month spot. 

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Photo by Mary Hurlbut

Nancy Pink’s garden is a delight to all the senses

Suzie Harrison, our arts columnist, will be writing those columns “because gardens are an art form, after all” as she notes. (I’m kicking off the first one, because Suzie needed a short break after a busy, busy festival season.) Mary Hurlbut, our excellent photographer who, by the way, also works as a freelance photographer, will be in charge of the visuals.

Then, on Friday, we hope to launch our first “Stu on the Street” interviews, during which we plan to ask locals for their views on a wide range of issues. 

We’re asking the multi-talented Suzie to handle this feature as well, because she is outgoing and a great reporter.

We love your press releases, so please keep them coming. We print as many as we possibly can. We hope you’re enjoying our original features also (including Dianne Russell’s fun and informative Creature Features). Let us know your thoughts!

And thanks for the warmth I’ve felt in recent months as I have taken on the impossible task of following in Stu’s footsteps. It is so very much appreciated.

AAUW-LB’s globe-trotting members will share their Melanesian Odyssey

Most of us don’t even know where the Melanesian Islands are, no less set foot on them. But AAUW-LB’s intrepid globetrotters Alison King and Chris Catsimanes sure do. The Laguna branch of American Association of University Women is delighted to once again have Alison and Chris share their latest travel adventures.

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Submitted Photo

Kastom dances on Malakula Island in Vanuatu 

 Join the event to see an exciting photo show recounting their recent journey to parts of Melanesia, including the Solomon Islands, Vanuatu, The Loyalty Island Group, New Caledonia and several of the south-eastern islands of Papua New Guinea.

How Australia helped the various tribes indigenous to these island states transition from head hunters to law abiding people is one of the fascinating stories Alison and Chris will tell, enriched by colorful details of traditional tribal practices and the social, political, and environmental issues the islanders face today. 

They’ll also share their thrilling visit to a dangerously active volcano on Vanuatu. “People have slid into that volcano,” said Alison King, recalling its towering smoke and enormous globs of lava shooting high into the air as the trembling volcano let out its blood curdling roar. Chris Catsimanes, ever the engineer adds, “The eruptions caused a low frequency sound wave that literally shook my insides. I estimate it matched a speaker that has a million watts of power.”

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Submitted Photo

Village elder in the Solomon Islands

Thanks to meeting space generously provided by LCAD, AAUW-LB is pleased to be able to invite the public to join this time. The event will be on Sun, Oct 1, from 3-5 p.m. at the Laguna College of Arts and Design, 2222 Laguna Canyon Road.  Parking is free. Refreshments will be served. Whether a member or non-member, RSVP to Madeleine Peterson 949-376-8494.

For general membership information or questions, contact membership co-chairs: Leah Vasquez (949) 494-5787 or Rachelle Cano (818) 307-7562, or visit AAUW-Laguna Beach online at  

AAUW’s mission is to advance equity for women and girls through advocacy, education and research.

Bench at Mountain Road beach access platform is on the agenda for approval at today’s meeting


The Council on Tuesday will be asked at Tuesday’s meeting to approve an artist-designed bench for construction on the Mountain Road beach access platform.

“Sea Stone Spills Stepping Ocean Hill” by artist Michael Stutz was unanimously recommended for approval by the Arts Commission. The bench was selected from three finalists out of the 22 applicants.

Artist Michael Stutz’s original rendering

 The Mountain Beach bench initial concept by artist Michael Stutz

Finalists for the Mountain Road beach access bench were selected by Nathan Mason, curator of exhibits and public art for the City of Chicago, artist and architect Brad Neal and urban designer and master planner Manda Yakiwchuk. 

After the commission’s approval of the 10 feet long, three and a half feet wide and three feet high bench to be mounted on the existing pad, Stutz requested some changes in the design. The changes include incorporating rainbow colors on the bench to acknowledge the gay history of the site near the Boom Boom Room. 

Photo by Mary Hurlbut

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Here, at Divers’ Cove, is a beautifully designed bench, situated where sitters can savor the scenery. “Strand of Life” was created by Casey Parlette, Laguna Beach lifeguard and artist.

Commissioners Pat Kollenda and Suzi Chavel suggested text for a plaque reading “This bench is a celebration of Laguna’s deep history of welcoming people from all walks of life to enjoy its beauty and community spirit.” 

If the council approves the commission recommendation, City Manager John Pietig will execute a $25,000 contract with Stutz to create and install the bench, be funded by a donation from Laguna Beach residents Steve Chadima and Mark Porterfield.

The bench is on the Consent Calendar and will be approved without discussion unless a member of the council or the audience in the Council Chambers “pulls” it.

Calling all girls: a Girl Scout pool party is planned for this Sunday Sept 17 at the high school pool

The Girl Scouts will be holding a pool party this Sunday, Sept 17, at the LBHS pool on Park Ave. They’re inviting all girls who are interested in meeting current Girl Scouts, meeting new friends, or just plain having fun to join them.

“Party like a Girl Scout!” the organizers encourage potential attendees – which means, prepare to have a great time.

The party will take place between noon and 3 p.m. at a cost of just $2 per swimmer. Crafts and snacks will be provided. 

For more information, contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or call 949-494-2913.

Dr. Jason Viloria discusses the State of our Schools at LBUSD PTA Coffee Talk at Hotel Laguna on Sept 20

On Wed, Sept 20, from 8:30 – 10 a.m., the LBUSD PTA Coffee Talk hosts a yearly presentation on the State of our Schools at the Hotel Laguna, 425 S Coast Hwy. At the meeting, Dr. Jason Viloria, superintendent of LBUSD, and district staff will update the community on the strengths of our schools, progress that has been made, and expectations for the future.

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Submitted photo

Dr. Jason Viloria, Superintendent of LBUSD

The event will highlight key goals and initiatives for the 2017-18 school year, including on-going continuous improvement efforts, the goal to foster and sustain strong relationships, and the focus of “every student, every day.”

For LBUSD PTA members, the event is free. For guests and non-PTA members, the fee is $10.

Attendees are asked to RSVP at:

Free health and educational programs are offered at Laguna Presbyterian Church

Free health programs and services are offered at Laguna Presbyterian Church, 415 Forest Ave.

On Tues, Sept 19, free skin cancer screening will be offered from 6-8 p.m. at Tankersley Hall. Skin cancer is the most common form of cancer in the United States. Statistics show that 1 in 5 Americans will develop skin cancer in their lifetime. Mission Hospital dermatologists are offering this complimentary skin cancer screening.

Appointments are required: call 877-459-3627.

On Sun, Oct 8, from 8 a.m. - noon, at Tankersley Hall, Laguna Presbyterian Parish Nurses will be offering free flu vaccines to all who would like to receive them. No appointments necessary. Get the shot, not the flu. Hoag Hospital Health Ministries is providing the annual flu vaccine.

And from Sept 21 - Dec 7, MOPS (Mothers of Preschoolers) meetings take place from 9:15 - 11:30 a.m., Thursdays, at Tankersley Hall.

MOPS is a weekly program offering brunch, creative activities, and guest speakers on relevant topics. MOPS is a special place for mothers to meet other mothers passing through this unique stage of life.

Pre-registration is required. Register online: Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

For more information about any of these programs, contact the church office at Laguna Presbyterian Church: 949-494-7555. The address is 415 Forest Avenue.

Shaena Stabler is the Owner, Publisher & Editor.

Dianne Russell is our Associate Editor & Writer.

Michael Sterling is our Webmaster & Designer.

Mary Hurlbut is our Chief Photographer.

Alexis Amaradio, Barbara Diamond, Dennis McTighe, Diane Armitage, Lynette Brasfield, Marrie Stone, Maggi Henrikson, Samantha Washer, and Suzie Harrison are our writers and/or columnists. Scott Brashier is our photographer.

Stacia Stabler is our Social Media Manager & Writer.

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