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Laguna Beach


A taste of Santa Barbara Wine Country comes to Laguna Beach

For the first time ever, Santa Barbara County is coming to Orange County for a special wine tasting. On the heels of winning Wine Enthusiast’s Wine Region of the Year for 2021 and more recently, receiving multiple Wine Enthusiast Wine Star Awards and nominations for 2022, on Thursday, Nov. 17 from 5-8 p.m. at Wine Gallery, guests will enjoy light bites and a tasting of a variety of acclaimed wines from Seagrape, Sandhi, The Hilt, Foxen, Rusack and Firestone.

The cost of this wine tasting is $30 and tickets can be purchased on Eventbrite.

Wine Gallery is located at 1833 S. Coast Hwy., #110, Laguna Beach. Guests must be 21 or older. For additional information, visit www.winegallerylaguna.com.

To find out more information on the Santa Barbara Vintners Association, visit www.sbcountywines.com.


The Drake After Dark speakeasy event to raise funds for underserved youth in music education

Designed as a speakeasy, The Drake After Dark will be an evening for a cause on Thursday, Dec. 1 from 6:30 p.m. until late at Seven-Degrees. Where great food meets great music, The Drake After Dark will be an immersive experience complete with interactive food stations, exceptional wines and craft cocktails, first-class live entertainment including a band and special guests, and fundraising opportunities featuring a silent auction and live auction led by auctioneer Zack Krone. Chef Donald Lockhart of Seven Degrees will be leading the evening’s culinary offerings which will not disappoint.

The event is aimed at raising $200,000 for Save The Music Foundation through The Drake Gives, a nonprofit 501(c)(3). 

The Drake After Dark Mo and Heidi

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Submitted photo

Mo Honarkar and Heidi Miller were among the attendees at last year’s The Drake After Dark

The celebratory affair will honor Doug Freeman, CEO and executive chair of Orange County Music and Dance. Devoted to serving nonprofits, Freeman has held a board chair role for the Pacific Symphony and UCI, and is a founding board chair of The Literacy Project. He currently serves as the chair and president of the Larry and Helen Hoag Foundation. Additionally, he is the founder of National Philanthropy Day and has been listed by the Orange County Business Journal as one of the 500 Most Influential People in Orange County.

The black and gold-themed soiree will provide guests with an opportunity to relax and enjoy an inspiring evening out, while affording the opportunity to get involved by giving the gift of music to underserved youth in local public schools. This year’s generous event sponsors include The Tarsadia Foundation, Rémy Martin and Irvine BMW. 

Due to limited capacity this event is anticipated to sell out for its second year in a row. Limited tickets and sponsorship opportunities for The Drake After Dark are available here. Suggested attire is festive and black & gold is encouraged. There is complimentary valet parking.

The Drake, Laguna Beach’s landmark restaurant and live music venue founded by Alec Glasser, launched The Drake Gives last year. The nonprofit’s mission is to connect, inspire and provide underserved youth with music education, materials and instruments. To date, The Drake Gives has raised more than a quarter million dollars to support Save The Music Foundation.

According to Glasser, “This year’s Drake After Dark event was designed to be a unique fundraising experience from the moment you arrive at Seven Degrees. We’ve combined the best of the best from food and entertainment, to innovative event design in order to deliver a memorable evening that will have a lasting impact for underserved youth.”

For more information on The Drake Gives, visit www.thedrakelaguna.com.

The Save The Music Foundation is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit that helps students, schools and communities reach their full potential through the power of making music. 

Seven-Degrees is located at 891 Laguna Canyon Road, Laguna Beach.


Chef Masters raises impressive proceeds for Unconditional senior and disabled dog rescue

Photos by Corey Sandler

With 35 OC chefs and a plethora of wineries participating in this year’s Chef Masters culinary extravaganza on Sunday, Oct. 16 at the Festival of Arts grounds in Laguna Beach, there were 320 very happy guests. Benefiting Unconditional, a senior and special needs dog rescue, made it even more gratifying. 

Chef Masters Macks and pups

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Unconditional co-founders Amy and Julian Mack with their dogs StanLee (Amy holding), Levi (L) and Oona (R)

Following a sumptuous two-hour gourmet food and wine reception, guests were seated at tables for dessert and introduced to the chefs by hostess DawnMarie Kotsonis before drawing the raffle ticket for a 50-bottle wine tree provided by Mona Lee Nesseth from Laguna Beach. Newport Beach resident Louis Orozco was the lucky winner. Guests offered their bid cards in a drawing for a Cannery Restaurant Duffy Boat cruise and a three-course dinner with wines for eight people, which Orange resident Luis Lopez won.

Chef Masters Fourgeray

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Chef Ron Fourgeray of Splashes at Surf & Sand Resort

Chef Masters Smith

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Chef Lindsay Smith/Nirvana Grille, Laguna Beach

Chef Masters Lockhart

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Chef Donald Lockhart/Terra Laguna Beach (R) with his team

Unconditional, a Laguna Beach-based nonprofit co-founded by Amy and Julian Mack, is on track to build an 8,000-sq.-ft. rescue and adoption center for senior and special needs dogs, due to open in Laguna Beach in late 2023. “Of the 14,000 shelters and rescue groups in the U.S., only 40 are dedicated to helping senior and special needs dogs and many of them are incredibly under-resourced. We are dedicated to finding loving homes for these animals, and believe me, the experience is very rewarding,” said Amy Mack.

Unconditional Executive Director Peter Chang followed up, saying, a sister entity called Rise Pet Care is also being launched by Amy and Julian. “It’s a separate for-profit run specialty animal hospital, which will be open to the public, but more importantly, it will also provide all the medical care needed for the animals at Unconditional at no cost,” Chang said.

Especially thanked were $100,000 Title Sponsor, Carlo’s Fund; $25,000 Platinum Sponsors – The Bone Adventure, The Fatty Sullivan Giving Fund for Dogs That Can’t Woof Good and Mary Murfey; the $10,000 Gold Sponsors included JustFoodForDogs, L Catterton, Petco Love and the Peter & Paula Fasseas Foundation.  Chef Masters Founder/Producer Kristin Martin was recognized as well.

Chef Masters Moon

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Chef Peter Moon of Seabutter

The Laguna Beach chefs who participated included Chef Donald Lockhart (Terra Laguna Beach), Chef Antonio Roa (Seahorse at Pearl Street), Chef Lindsay Smith (Nirvana Grille), Chef Ron Fougeray (Splashes at Surf & Sand Resort), Chef Peter Moon (Seabutter), Chef Enrique Valenzuela (C’est La Vie), Chef Jose Arrieta (Sueños Laguna Beach) and Chef Michael Campbell (Pacific Pearl Catering).

Chef Masters Moon

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CEO of Montage Int’l. Alan Furstman and his wife Susan were among the evening’s guests

Many paddles were raised in the Fund a Need portion to bring the total raised to an impressive $450,000. The evening concluded with dancing to the popular band Flashback Heart Attack.

For more information, visit www.unconditionalrescue.org.


Voted “Best Ceviche in Laguna”

Voted best ceviche monique

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Photo by Mary Hurlbut

Taste of Laguna – Rooftop Lounge and Comedor/La Casa Del Camino was bestowed the title “Best Ceviche in Laguna” by KX FM radio. Executive Sous Chef Monique Djerf gives a sample to a passerby at the Taste of Laguna on October 13.


Sold-out crowd enjoys Taste of Laguna under the stars with fabulous food, fun and music

By DIANNE RUSSELL

Photos by Mary Hurlbut

Not only was Thursday, Oct. 13, a night for foodies to sample some of the best cuisine in Laguna, it was an opportunity to meet the stars behind the culinary creations – the chefs. At the Taste of Laguna Food & Music Festival, a Chamber of Commerce signature event, there was something tasty for everyone and libations galore.

sold out FOA

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Festival of Arts, a fabulous open-air venue with food, music and fun

There’s no doubt that The Taste of Laguna Food & Music Festival is one of our community’s favorite events! A food festival featuring a selection of unique dishes from Laguna’s best restaurants combined with live entertainment, this is one mega event for both foodies and music lovers. All proceeds benefit the Laguna Beach Chamber of Commerce. 

sold out nirvana grille

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Executive Chef and Owner of Nirvana Grille Lindsay Smith (on left) with staff member Stephanie Labile enjoy the lively event

Participating restaurants included: Ahba, Alessa By Chef Pirozzi, Broadway By Amar Santana, Carmelita’s, C’est La Vie, Crumbl Cookies, Comedor, Driftwood, Filo’s Gelato, Finney’s Crafthouse, Freelance Coffee Project, Hendrix, Jedidiah Coffee and Kitchen in the Canyon.

sold out shohreh and police ff

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City Manager Shohreh Dupuis with LB Police Officers and Firemen

More participating restaurants: Larsen, Nick’s Laguna Beach, Pizza Bar Laguna Beach, Oak Laguna Beach, Ristorante Rumari, Roux Creole Cuisine, Rum Social, South of Nick’s Laguna Beach, Splashes, Tango, Terra Laguna Beach, The Cliff, The Loft-Montage Laguna Beach, The Rooftop and Wine Gallery.

sold out starfish

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Starfish shopping

“Taste of Laguna was such a fun and lively event. Hendrix and Driftwood Kitchen is beyond grateful for the opportunity to share our style of cuisine and personality with our local community. We can’t wait to share our love and whatever’s cooking in the kitchen, next year!” –Ashley Houghton, Bar & Service Manager, Hendrix OC.

sold out the cliff

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Crew from The Cliff

To top it all off, attendees enjoyed the amazing sounds of The Mighty Untouchables – so much so, the dance floor was full.

sold out nicks

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Nick’s Laguna Beach with its tasty samplings

“The Taste was so lively!” said regular Taste of Laguna attendee Pamela Knudsen. “Not only were the food tastings delicious, it’s the sense of camaraderie that I love about this event. And the dancing! The Mighty Untouchables had my boyfriend and me dancing nonstop for almost an entire set.”

sold out finneys

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Finney’s Crafthouse was a hit

For more photos by Mary Hurlbut, go to the slideshow below:


Tickets nearly gone for Taste of Laguna

Tickets are nearly gone and VIP tickets are all sold out for the Laguna Beach Chamber of Commerce’s signature event, Taste of Laguna Food & Music Festival. The Taste features tasty bites from some of the area’s best restaurants and food artisans, in addition to the amazing sounds of The Mighty Untouchables on Thursday, Oct. 13 from 5-10 p.m. at the Festival of Arts grounds.

The participating restaurants, bakers and food artisans will be serving up delicious culinary creations. The 2022 Taste of Laguna Food & Music Festival has defiantly become the event of the year.

Tickets are going fast seafood sampling

Click on photo for a larger image

Photo by Mary Hurlbut

The Taste of Laguna Beach will feature delicious culinary creations

“We are excited to welcome so many wonderful restaurants,” said Erin Slattery, president-CEO of the Laguna Beach Chamber of Commerce.

Participating restaurants include: Ahba, Alessa By Chef Pirozzi, Broadway By Amar Santana, Carmelita’s, C’est La Vie, Crumbl Cookies, Comedor, Driftwood, Filo’s Gelato, Finney’s Crafthouse, Freelance Coffee Project, Hendrix, Jedidiah Coffee, Kitchen in the Canyon, Larsen, Nick’s Laguna Beach, Pizza Bar Laguna Beach, Oak Laguna Beach, Ristorante Rumari, Roux Creole Cuisine, Rum Social, South of Nick’s Laguna Beach, Splashes, Tango, Terra Laguna Beach, The Cliff,  The Loft-Montage Laguna Beach, The Rooftop and Wine Gallery.

Ticket prices are $85 for general admission. This is a 21+ event.

To register, visit the website at www.TasteofLaguna.org, or call 949.494.1018.

Festival of Arts is located at 650 Laguna Canyon Road, Laguna Beach.


Driftwood Kitchen and The Deck to host Sip & Shuck fundraiser

The Deck on Laguna Beach, Driftwood Kitchen and Hendrix Restaurant & Bar, together with The Bungalows at Pacific Edge Hotel, is bringing back its popular Sip & Shuck fundraiser on Sunday, Oct. 9 from 2:30-6:30 p.m. This event, the eighth beachside soiree to benefit CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocates) of Orange County, gives guests the unique opportunity to experience a variety of hand-shucked oysters, Champagne, sparkling wines, spirits and more from around the world, all while enjoying panoramic ocean views.

Executive Chef Rainer Schwarz and his team will prepare delicious tastes from The Deck, Driftwood Kitchen and Hendrix. The event will include beverages from Ketel One, Grey Goose, Tito’s Handmade Vodka, Nolet’s Gin, Casamigos Tequila, Captain Morgan, RumHaven, Bacardi, Stoli Vodka, Ballast Point Brewery, Laguna Beach Beer Company, Champs de Provence Rose, Veuve Clicquot, Salt Rose, Cloudy Bay, Milagro Tequila, Hendrick’s Gin, Kendall Jackson, San Benedetto Water, Coca-Cola and Lavazza Coffee, among others.

Driftwood Kitchen Sip & Shuck

Submitted photo

Sip & Shuck will raise funds benefiting CASA

“After a hiatus during the pandemic, Sip & Shuck is returning with more of what has made it one of the most successful events in Laguna Beach and beyond. We are glad to be able to once again support CASA, a local Orange County group dedicated to helping children in need,” said John Nye, partner & director of operations for the restaurants. “With expectations set even higher for this year’s event, we are going to focus on sourcing an incredible array of fresh oysters, pouring terrific Champagnes, wines and spirits, and presenting lively entertainers. As always, guests can look forward to a few surprises along the way.”

General admission tickets for the 21-and-over event are available for purchase for $200 pre-sale (2:30 p.m. entry) or $250 for VIP (1:30 p.m. entry). Admission includes oysters and other decadent bites, as well as access to Champagne, wine, cocktail and beer sampling. Event attendees looking to enjoy the evening’s celebrations may take advantage of the Pacific Edge Hotel’s Shake, Stir & Stay packages.

The Deck on Laguna Beach is located at 627 Sleepy Hollow Lane, Laguna Beach. For more information on Sip & Shuck, visit www.sipnshuck.com.

CASA provides a powerful voice for youth in the child welfare system through a unique one-on-one relationship with trained and supervised court appointed volunteer advocates. It works to ensure that these youth are safe, have a permanent home and an opportunity to thrive. For more information, visit www.casaoc.org, or call 714.619.5155.


Celebrate the 8th Annual Night at the Ranch to benefit Boys & Girls Club on September 23

The Boys & Girls Club of Laguna Beach is holding the 8th Annual Night at the Ranch on Friday, Sept. 23 at The Ranch in Laguna Beach beginning at 5:30 p.m. Event co-chairs and club alumni, Leif Hanson and Steve Blue, are planning a fabulous evening for everyone. Guests will get to indulge in the experience of this iconic event at one of Laguna Beach’s finest resorts. The evening will begin with a cocktail hour and silent auction, then, continue on the 9th fairway of the golf course with a farm-to-table dinner and an exciting live auction. The night will culminate with live music by Common Sense and dancing for all in attendance. 

The 8th Annual Night at the Ranch crowd

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Courtesy of The Ranch in Laguna Beach

Night at the Ranch will benefit the Boys & Girls Club of Laguna Beach

Club Alumnus Leif Hanson had the idea of the Night at the Ranch event nine years ago and the event is now one of the best in Laguna. Leif, a resident of Laguna Beach, attended what was the Laguna Beach Boys Club during his formable years as a young boy and was looking for a way to give back to the Club. He enlisted his good friend and fellow Club Alumnus Steve Blue, and together with their amazing committee, they have made this event a success.

“The number of kids who need us has grown so fast that we’re just trying to keep up. Now we need more support than ever so we can be there for all kids,” says CEO Pam Estes.

Table sponsorships are now available at www.bgclagunabeach.org.

For more information, contact Michelle Fortezzo at 949.715.7584 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

The Ranch at Laguna Beach is located at 31106 Coast Highway, Laguna Beach.

For more than 70 years, the Boys & Girls Club of Laguna Beach has been an indispensable asset to the community. From preschool to parenting classes, the Club offers an array of services that focus on academic success, good character and citizenship, healthy lifestyles and creative expression. The Club serves youth ages 3-18 years of age at their two sites, Canyon Branch and Bluebird Branch, in Laguna Beach. For more information, visit www.bgclagunabeach.org.


Tickets are going fast for Taste of Laguna

Tickets are going fast for the Laguna Beach Chamber of Commerce’s signature event, Taste of Laguna Food & Music Festival. The Taste features tasty bites from some of the area’s best restaurants and food artisans, in addition to the amazing sounds of The Mighty Untouchables on Thursday, Oct. 13 from 5-10 p.m. at the Festival of Arts grounds.

The participating restaurants, bakers and food artisans will be serving up delicious culinary creations. The 2022 Taste of Laguna Food & Music Festival has defiantly become the event of the year.

Tickets are going fast samplings

Click on photo for a larger image

Photo by Mary Hurlbut

The Taste of Laguna Beach will feature delicious culinary creations

“We are excited to welcome so many wonderful restaurants,” said Erin Slattery, president-CEO of the Laguna Beach Chamber of Commerce.

Participating restaurants include: Ahba, Alessa By Chef Pirozzi, Broadway By Amar Santana, Carmelita’s, C’est La Vie, Crumbl Cookies, Comedor, Driftwood, Filo’s Gelato, Finney’s Crafthouse, Freelance Coffee Project, Hendrix, Jedidiah Coffee, Kitchen in the Canyon, Larsen, Nick’s Laguna Beach, Pizza Bar Laguna Beach, Oak Laguna Beach, Ristorante Rumari, Roux Creole Cuisine, Rum Social, South of Nick’s Laguna Beach, Splashes, Tango, Terra Laguna Beach, The Cliff,  The Loft-Montage Laguna Beach, The Rooftop and Wine Gallery.

Ticket prices are $150 for VIP and $85 for General admission. VIP tickets include 5 p.m. entry, two drink tickets and a special VIP area with Tequila Comisario tastings and special wines from the Bordeaux region and Germany. This is a 21+ event.

To register, visit the website at www.TasteofLaguna.org, or call 949.494.1018.

Festival of Arts is located at 650 Laguna Canyon Road, Laguna Beach.


The 8th Annual Night at the Ranch to benefit Boys & Girls Club 

The Boys & Girls Club of Laguna Beach announced the 8th Annual Night at the Ranch will be held on Friday, Sept. 23 at The Ranch in Laguna Beach beginning at 5:30 p.m. Event co-chairs and club alumni, Leif Hanson and Steve Blue, are planning a fabulous evening for all. Guests will get to indulge in the experience of this iconic event at one of Laguna Beach’s finest resorts. The evening will begin with a cocktail hour and silent auction, then, continue on the 9th fairway of the golf course with a farm-to-table dinner and an exciting live auction. The night will culminate with live music by Common Sense and dancing for all in attendance. 

The 8th Annual Night at the Ranch crowd

Click on photo for a larger image

Courtesy of The Ranch in Laguna Beach

Night at the Ranch will benefit the Boys & Girls Club of Laguna Beach

Club Alumnus Leif Hanson had the idea of the Night at the Ranch event nine years ago and the event is now one of the best in Laguna. Leif, a resident of Laguna Beach, attended what was the Laguna Beach Boys Club during his formable years as a young boy and was looking for a way to give back to the Club. He enlisted his good friend and fellow Club Alumnus Steve Blue, and together with their amazing committee, they have made this event a success.

“The number of kids who need us has grown so fast that we’re just trying to keep up. Now we need more support than ever so we can be there for all kids,” says CEO Pam Estes.

Table sponsorships are now available at www.bgclagunabeach.org.

For more information, contact Michelle Fortezzo at 949.715.7584 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

The Ranch at Laguna Beach is located at 31106 Coast Highway, Laguna Beach.

For more than 70 years, the Boys & Girls Club of Laguna Beach has been an indispensable asset to the community. From preschool to parenting classes, the Club offers an array of services that focus on academic success, good character and citizenship, healthy lifestyles and creative expression. The Club serves youth ages 3-18 years of age at their two sites, Canyon Branch and Bluebird Branch, in Laguna Beach. For more information, visit www.bgclagunabeach.org.

Shaena Stabler, President & CEO - Shaena@StuNewsLaguna.com

Lana Johnson, Editor - Lana@StuNewsLaguna.com

Tom Johnson, Publisher - Tom@StuNewsLaguna.com

Dianne Russell is our Associate Editor.

Michael Sterling is our Webmaster & Designer.

Mary Hurlbut and Scott Brashier are our photographers.

Alexis Amaradio, Dennis McTighe, Marrie Stone, Sara Hall, Suzie Harrison and Theresa Keegan are our writers and/or columnists.

In Memoriam - Stu Saffer and Barbara Diamond.

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