On a beautiful Sunday overlooking the ocean, the patio at the Montage Laguna Beach hosted the Taste of Laguna Beach 2014. The charity event, held for the Share Our Strength/No Child Hungry program, provided a way for a multitude of chefs, wineries and local growers to give back to the community. It also gave guests at the event a chance to eat some delicious food, enjoy lots of excellent wine and beer, all the while supporting their community too.
Traveling from Hawaii, Chef Alan Wong came for the fourth year to the Taste of the Nation Laguna Beach. As Chef Wong put it, “The cause is a worthy cause. I mean, No Kid Goes Hungry. We’ve got to think of this generation and the future of the next generation and be sustainable. The next generation of kids should be dear to everybody.”
Locally, star Chef Ludo Lefevre, from Trois Mec and Ludo Bites in Los Angeles, came to create a delicious avocado sushi with a lime sauce for everyone. From the Golden Truffle in Costa Mesa, Chef Alan Greeley put together a wonderful potato salad with a crawfish vinaigrette. Representing the Haven GastroPub, Greg Daniels made a delicious paté for guests to enjoy while partner Wil Dee poured several excellent local micro-brews. Coming in from Miami was Nina Compton, from the renowned restaurant Scarpetta in the Fountainbleu Hotel in Miami. From right around the corner was Chef William Bradley of Addison in Corona del Mar. Making an appearance was Dara, the Bowl Girl, the 12 year old cooking sensation from MasterChef Junior USA. The Montage donated their Pastry Chef, Lee Smith, to the cause.
Brian Huskey, Executive Chef for the Formosa Cafe in Los Angeles, came with Vince Jung, the third generation owner of the 75 year old cafe that is a mainstay of fine Chinese cuisine for many in the Hollywood studios that dot the landscape near it. Also adding to the celebrity chef lineup was David Coleman, of Chianina Steakhouse in Long Beach.
The culinary mastermind behind the event was Chef Craig Strong, the Executive Chef of Studio at the Montage. “For the kids that need help with one of the basic needs that any chef would tell you is close to our heart, which is feeding people, if you’re struggling with food, it pulls at a chef in a very tender way. Share Our Strength was an organization that caught our interest.” Chef Strong has not only worked to present some fine dishes such as a grilled scallop with fresh peas and edible “soil”, but has put his heart into helping to coordinate the event with the other Chefs and the Montage in general.
The day was a big success for the community, with some big winners from the silent auction as well as a live auction for various items as a longboard and a Chef’s Table Dinner at the Montage’s Studio restaurant. The bidding was so lively for the dinner that when it reached the $9,500 level, Chef Strong generously authorized that both high bidders could get a dinner. With that and other generous donations, the children were the real winners today.