Nearly 500 guests attended the 11th annual Laguna Beach Taste of the Nation event at Montage Laguna Beach on Sunday, May 20. This year’s culinary fund-raising party raised nearly $250,000, breaking all previous records for the event. Funds will be allocated to Share Our Strength’s No Kid Hungry incentive.
“We are so very appreciative of all who attended this beautiful event overlooking the Pacific and to those who participated in the silent auction and live auction conducted by Dan Dotson of A&E’s ‘Storage Wars,’” said Tom Nelson, president of Share Our Strength, who flew in from the organization’s Washington, D.C. headquarters. “Its success is also due to the efforts and hospitality extended by everyone at Montage Laguna Beach and by the culinary talents and graciousness of the participating chefs. And, Share Our Strength heartily thanks all the event sponsors and purveyors.”
The roster of California top chef talent included Studio Host Chef Craig Strong who served Seared Scallops with candied kumquats and sunchokes, and who brought in a record auction bid of $7,500 for a dinner for 12 paired with wines at Strong’s Chef’s Table at Studio.
Guests feasted on Yellowtail Tostado presented by Chef Brian Huskey of Tackle Box in Corona Del Mar and Charcoal Grilled Spanish Octopus by Chef Amar Santana of Vaca in Costa Mesa and Broadway by Amar Santana in Laguna Beach. Chef Joe Sasto of Cal Mare in Los Angeles pleased guests with his Green Garlic Zeppole with stracciatella cheese and Tsar Nicoulai Caviar. Other dishes were served by Chef Marcel Vigneron, owner of Wolf/Beefsteak in Los Angeles, Chef Eric Samaniego of Michael’s on Naples Ristorante in Long Beach and Chef Bryant Taylor of Chianina Steakhouse in Long Beach. Decadent desserts were provided by Julia Browne, assistant pastry chef at Montage Laguna Beach.
Live entertainment was performed by Kalama Brothers, an award-winning R&B soul group from San Clemente.
Cocktails were provided by Corey Happeny, BarJedi, WhistlePig Rye Whiskey, Kikori Whiskey and Tito’s Handmade Vodka. Participating wineries including ZD Wines, Serrano Wines and Distinguished Vineyards & Wine Partners paired wines with the elegant chef-prepared dishes included.
Sponsors included: Citi, Sysco, OpenTable, Food Network, Montage, The Duchess On Cambridge, Epstein Becker & Green, Southern California Gas Company, Aqua Panna/S. Pellegrino, Moss Adams, Orange Coast Magazine, McMonigle Group, BJ’s Restaurants Foundation, Distinguished Vineyards & Wine Partners.
The After-Party was a special highlight for those attending. Guests mingled with celebrity chefs and received complimentary chef-signed aprons. Champagne was poured by Veuve Clicquot, and feasting took place on burgers from Habit, ceviche from Puesto and fried chicken sandwiches from soon-to-open Buttermilk Fried Chicken.
Share Our Strength’s No Kid Hungry Program was established to end childhood hunger in the U.S. by ensuring kids start the day with a nutritious breakfast, and families learn skills to shop and cook on a budget. To date, No Kid Hungry and its partners have provided more than 500 million meals.