When you think about upscale Southern California cuisine, L.A. usually has the market cornered. Restaurants like Hatfield's, Osteria Mozza, Melisse, and Lucques dominate the landscape, admittedly making it tough to compete. But take a quick look just South of the City of Angels and you might be surprised at what you find: namely, several high-end chefs migrating to none other than Orange County hotels and restaurants. This is great news for true "Southern" California residents, as Orange County hotels such as The Montage and The Ritz-Carlton in Laguna Beach have drawn culinary legends for years, but other institutions have been less, well, gastronomically-inspired.
That's all changing. No, really. Orange County is all-grown up, graduating from (still delicious) chocolate-dipped Balboa Bars and fried beachfront food to haute cuisine and celebrity chefs. To prove it, eight of the O.C's top chefs (full list below) are presenting bite-sized portions of their best dishes during the "STARS of California" event, hosted at Santa Monica's Broad Stage on Thursday, June 23 from 6:30 to 9 p.m. The event -- including the talents of executive chefs from the likes of the aforementioned Montage and Ritz-Carlton hotels as well as the Angeleno-magazine rated Splashes restaurant -- continues the up-and-coming theme by featuring the vintages from twenty boutique California wineries, including Sonoma Coast's Baker Lane, Paso Robles' Eden Canyon, Santa Barbara's Palmina Wines, Napa Valley's Poem Cellars, and many more. In between dining and drinking, groove to the tunes of KCRW DJ Dan Wilcox and bid on fantastic silent auction prizes.
The new face of Orange County cuisine...
The full list of participating chefs hail from the following O.C. oceanfront properties:
Tickets are $120 each online, or two for $200. For Taste & Vintage Members, tickets are $90. Note: Tickets sold at the door will be $140. Event proceeds support Getaway 2 Give, a travel-for-charity program with the OCean, benefitting Oceana, Special Olympics of Southern California, LupusLA, and Make-A-Wish Foundation.