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14th Annual Taste of Laguna Festival serves up a taste of heaven for food and music fans


Photos by Mary Hurlbut 

After a year’s hiatus, the 14th Annual Taste of Laguna Food and Music Festival returned to the Festival of Arts grounds with a culinary and musical bang. This is their second year as a combined food and music festival, presented by Julie Laughton Design Build, the Laguna Beach Chamber of Commerce and KX 93.5. 

This year’s event was not only an inspired feast for the palate; it was also an artistic fête for the ears. The festival, which included 33 booths with participants from local restaurants, businesses and organizations – and on the Main Stage, a succession of great bands – was all about the art of food and music, both of which were served up in grand style. 

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(L-R) City Manager Shohreh Dupuis, Visit Laguna Beach Board Member Karyn Philippsen and President & CEO of Visit Laguna Beach Ashley Johnson

The evening was hosted by Ed Steinfield, the award-winning host of KX FM’s “Mornings with Ed Show.” Music was provided by Nova with its signature Brazilian flavor, DJ Steve Whelan “The Ruckus,” and Tino Productions and its classic big band sounds.

Heidi Miller, owner of Tight Assets and World Newsstand, has been going since the Taste started more than 25 years ago when it was on the top level of the Glenneyre parking structure. 

“Taste of Laguna” is the greatest mix of talented chefs in one night! The flavors...the fun...the friendships,” Miller said. “Laguna Beach foodies were in heaven!”

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Winner of Best Vegetarian Dish: Harley Laguna Beach, Chef Greg Daniels - Roasted Cauliflower

Participants included Aston Martin Newport Beach, Brightlife Beverage Co., Broadway by Amar Santana, Carolyn Johnson, Casazul Tequila, Comedor Laguna Beach, DirectMed, Firebrand Media, Harley Laguna Beach, Hotel Laguna, Jedidiah Coffee, KX FM, Laguna Art Museum, Laguna Beach Beer Company, Laguna Beach Garden Club, Laguna Beach Police, Fire and Marine Safety, Lapin Rouillé Champagne, Mike Johnson Partners, Nirvana Grille, Oak Laguna Beach, Oliver’s Osteria, Pizza Bar, Ristorante Rumari, Roux Creole Cuisine, Saigon Beach, Splashes, Splendid Events (photo bus), Starfish, Sueños Laguna Beach, Surfrider Foundation, Tatyana Zen, Terra, The Cliff Restaurant, The Rooftop Lounge, The Seahorse, Tipsy Missy’s Taps, We Love Laguna Beach and Wine Gallery.

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(L-R) Heidi Miller, owner of Tight Assets and World Newsstand, Jayme Maxwell and Carol Falstup

“It seemed like all of Laguna was at The Taste! What great vibes – the enthusiasm was electric!,” said Pamela Knudsen. “I love KX FM and was so happy to be there celebrating with everyone. I participated in the Mick Jagger strut, the brainchild of weekday morning host, Ed Steinfeld and could not stop smiling as I was groovin’ with the crowd of Mick Jagger strut impersonators. I was thrilled to meet radio hosts Patti Compton, Steve Reid and Greg Friedman and also Alyssa Hayek, the general manager. We are so blessed to have KX FM, not only for its amazing music but because the station brings an added sense of community to Laguna.”

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Best Dish for a “Sweet Tooth”: Chef Lindsay Smith of Nirvana Grille - Goat Cheese Ice Cream

Many participants were first-timers such as Sueños, which just opened recently and others are veterans of the event. From the very first bite at Sueños – a tuna appetizer – with a lot of tasty tidbits in between – to the last bite of flan from Oak Restaurant, it was a food lover’s paradise.

After the 2020 hiatus, everyone was happy to be back amid the festive atmosphere.

Spotted were artist Randy Morgan, Catmosphere Laguna Foundation founder Gail Landau, Gail Duncan, Pamela Knudsen, Heidi Miller, Sue Kempf, Peter and Stephanie Blake and their new puppy.

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Cookie Lee and husband 


Although it must have been particularly difficult this year to pick winners, these restaurants took top kudos:

Best Overall Bite: Broadway by Chef Amar Santana - Sherry-glazed Meatballs.

 Best Plated Dish: Hotel Laguna, Chef Craig Strong - Short Rib “Cigars”.

 Best Vegetarian Dish: Harley Laguna Beach, Chef Greg Daniels - Roasted Cauliflower.

 Best Dish for a “Sweet Tooth”: Chef Lindsay Smith - Goat Cheese Ice Cream.

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


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