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Return of Lumberyard Chef Challenge serves up support for SchoolPower

On January 23 at the Lumberyard restaurant, LBUSD school principals dueled as guest “chefs,” serving up competing three-course meals to a cheering, full-house crowd of SchoolPower supporters. No, the Monday evening event wasn’t the kickoff of a new reality series, but the comeback of a beloved event called the SchoolPower Lumberyard Chef Challenge.

The event was conceived by Lumberyard owners Suzanne and Cary Redfearn, who generously donate their restaurant, including all of the food and staff. According to Cary, “We were so fortunate to have our kids attend school in Laguna and receive such a fabulous education – Chef Challenge is our way of giving back. We opened Lumberyard to be a community restaurant, and this event so epitomizes that goal.”

Return of Lumberyard Jason Viloria group

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Photos by Candice Dartez Photographer

(L-R) LBUSD Superintendent Jason Viloria, Laguna Beach High School Principal Jason Allemann, Thurston Principal Joe Vidal, Lumberyard owner Cary Redfearn, Top of the World Principal Meghan Schooler and El Morro Principal Julie Hatchel 

Supporters were especially enthusiastic about Monday’s event because of its pause due to COVID. “This year’s challenge was a welcome homecoming after a three-year hiatus,” said Harpal Sadhal, last year’s SchoolPower president. “It’s always a great way to unite the community – dueling bartender-presidents, competing principal-chefs – and all to support students of the LBUSD schools!”

Return of Lumberyard Thurston Principal group

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(L-R) Thurston Principal Joe Vidal, Laguna Beach High School Principal Jason Allemann, El Morro Principal Julie Hatchel and Top of the World Principal Meghan Schooler

The principals select items and serve guests, but the dishes are actually conceived and prepared by Chef Primo and the Lumberyard staff. This year, the LBHS-Thurston Middle School principal duo of Dr. Jason Allemann and Joe Vidal took home the coveted Golden Spatula award with their entrée – grilled branzino on a bed of sundried tomatoes and couscous. Admittedly, they narrowly beat the delicious short ribs with horseradish potato puree devised by the elementary school team of El Morro’s Dr. Julie Hatchel and Top of the World Elementary’s Megan Schooler.

“I am always appreciative of the profound support of parents and our greater school community at these one-of-a-kind events,” said Dr. Allemann. “The Chef Challenge exemplifies a great message to our young adults at the high school when they can see and hear about a function that brings local businesses, family, friends and educators together to support our schools.”

Return of Lumberyard Dechary and Sadhal

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SchoolPower President Amy Dechary serves up her signature cocktail “Bad Apple” while former President Harpal Sadhal mixes up his “Bees Knees” for the Bartender Competition

Guests also sampled signature cocktail concoctions handcrafted at the bar by current SchoolPower President Amy Dechary and last year’s SchoolPower President Harpal Sadhal. Sadhal’s Bee’s Knees cocktail narrowly beat Dechary’s Bad Apple. “It was my first time tending bar,” she said, “and I’m so grateful to Lumberyard’s expert mixologists Jeannie Simons and Amber Nyson for showing us the ropes. I’m eagerly awaiting another shot at a win next year.”

Return of Lumberyard Livel Real Estate

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(L-R) Livel Real Estate team members Tiffany Frey, Elaine Brashier, Jill Lockhart and Meital Taub

Return of Lumberyard Katie and Nicole

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(L-R) SchoolPower supporters Katie MacGillivray and Nicole Anderson

“The partnership of SchoolPower and Lumberyard was incredible, sponsoring an event filled with high energy, fun, and good-hearted competition and, of course, great food,” said Dr. Hatchel. “I was honored to be a part of it and have the opportunity to get to know and interact with our parents in a different environment.”

Return of Lumberyard Resslers

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SchoolPower supporters Barron and Kim Ressler

The event raised more than $9,000 which will support SchoolPower’s grant program and family support services offered through the Family Resource Center.

Return of Lumberyard Vidal and Alleman

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(L-R) Thurston Principal Joe Vidal and Laguna Beach High School Principal Jason Alleman are named as the winners and presented with the “Golden Spatula” 

SchoolPower is the parent volunteer-based, non-profit education foundation that has raised money for Laguna Beach public schools since 1981. SchoolPower’s mission is to enrich the education and support the well-being of all children in the Laguna Beach Unified School District. Through SchoolPower grants, the Family Resource Center and the After School Program, SchoolPower supports academics, athletics, visual and performing arts, music, student experiences, social and emotional wellness and community connections. For more information about SchoolPower, visit

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Wine Craft opens with a wine tasting and craft room, locals night

Wine Craft is an exciting new concept in Laguna Beach. It offers a unique collection of wines to taste along with fun craft experiences for friends and family to enjoy.

They host a locals night on Wednesdays for half-off tastings and 10% off bottles, have painting and art classes, and have provided free craft kits to the Boys & Girls Club during the holidays.

Wine Craft staff

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Photos courtesy of Wine Craft

The Wine Craft staff sharing free craft kits

Wine Craft kit

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A close-up of the Wine Craft’s kid’s craft kit

Wine Craft is located at 662 S. Coast Highway, Laguna Beach. For more information, visit, or call 949.376.0007.

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Slice Pizza & Beer releases fifth Laguna Beach artist-designed pizza box

Slice Pizza & Beer just announced the release of their fifth Laguna Beach artist-designed pizza box. 

“In keeping with the concept of promoting community, we decided when we opened to have local artists design our boxes,” said Suzanne Redfearn, who owns Slice Pizza & Beer with her husband, Cary. 

slice pizza Larry Stewart

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Photos courtesy of Slice Pizza & Beer

Local artist Larry Stewart with the pizza box he designed

“Our fifth pizza box features the work of local artist Larry Stewart, and he chose the quote on the inside flap, which was written by Paul McCartney: ‘And, in the end, the love you take is equal to the love you make,’” said Suzanne.

Stewart is a Laguna Beach artist, born and raised. As he stated on, “I have been honing my craft in contemporary styled artwork for the last decade. Initially a full-time athlete, my notebooks overflowed with artistic creations. Eventually, it came time to hang up the cleats; with my old identity gone, I committed to something new.” 

slice pizza Larry and Lance

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Larry Stewart (left) with his brother Lance display the five artist-designed pizza boxes – (L-R) Fifth design by Larry, fourth design by Lauren Howell, third design by Lisa Mansour and her daughter Chloe Mansour, second design by Sharon Hardy and the inaugural box was designed by Cynthia Fletcher.

Stewart continued, “Soon the hours in the studio surpassed the hours in the ocean, and I knew that it would be this way forever. Years of athletics created an addictive passion for mastering every detail of my creation and finding new sources of inspiration. The only difference is that art is a game I cannot win, so it looks like I have a lifetime of competition ahead of me.”

Follow Larry Stewart on Instagram @larrydiditt.

Slice Pizza & Beer is located at 477 Forest Ave., Laguna Beach. For more information, visit

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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

To find out more information on the Santa Barbara Vintners Association, visit

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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

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.

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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

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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.

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


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:

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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

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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, or call 949.494.1018.

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

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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

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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

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, or call 714.619.5155.

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In Memoriam - Stu Saffer and Barbara Diamond.

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