Chef Masters, The Hungry Games, Stuff the Lobster, Atomic Ice Cream

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Chef Pascal Olhats and Chef Jessica Roy of Cafe Jardin. Photo by Chris Trela

Are there too many chef-based culinary events in Orange County?

I used to think so, but these events help raise funds for local charities, so I say the more the merrier.

That may be one of the reasons Kristin Martin, producer of the Table for Ten chef extravaganza every spring that raises thousands of dollars for charity, launched a fall dining event called Chef Masters, held last weekend at Paséa Resort & Spa in Huntington Beach.

This is the second edition of Chef Masters, which benefits Alzheimer’s Family Center. This culinary extravaganza offered guests a two-hour gourmet tasting food and wine reception on the resort’s alfresco terrace featuring 30 top chefs, restaurants and wineries.

Following the tasting, guests enjoyed a dessert presentation in the Grand Ballroom plus an opportunity to bid on live auction items. Entertainment was provided by The Johnny Holiday Show with the Dean Mora Orchestra.

Newport Beach was well-represented at the Chef Masters event.

Andy Arndt from Newport Beach Marriott Resort & Spa was serving a tasty dish of seared tuna, walnuts, hummus, preserved berry vinaigrette, fennel and scallion oil, and vegan chicharrones.

Vegan burgers from True Food. Photo by Chris Trela

Noe Moreno of True Food Kitchen in Fashion Island served a truly delicious vegan burger, while Riley Huddleston from The Mayor’s Table at Lido House offered roasted beets with goat cheese served in a “stained glass” cup. Markus Hagan from Cannery Seafood of the Pacific, David Martin from The Pacific Club Newport Beach, David Shofner of Fable & Spirit, and Diego Bernal and Erick Sandvan from Coliseum Pool & Grill at The Resort at Pelican Hill also served signature bites.

But the most impressive culinary display came courtesy of Chef Pascal Olhats and his new chef partner Jessica Roy of Café Jardin in Corona del Mar. Their interactive display featured a variety of oysters along with other delicacies laid out over several stone slabs, along with smoke and music. It took them several minutes to set up and replenish the display, with gold rope stanchions keeping hungry diners at bay until they were allowed to feast on the food. Chefs Olhats and Roy are bringing this type of creativity and enthusiasm to Café Jardin, so go check them out.

Thank you chefs for your fundraising efforts!

The Hungry Games

Chef Bill Bracken has a long, colorful history plying his culinary craft in Orange County restaurants, particularly in Newport Beach. He is the former executive chef for the Island Hotel in Fashion Island (since renamed the Fashion Island Hotel), where his mac and cheese made with Taleggio cheese, crushed truffles and a parmesan tuile was legendary. He also opened DivBar Smokehouse BBQ on Coast Highway (now Mama’s).

His latest project is Bracken’s Kitchen, which he launched several years ago with the goal of cooking high-quality food for those in need. Through food recovery, culinary training and a community feeding program, he is committed to recovering, repurposing and restoring both food and lives.

Bracken raises funds for his charitable operation through an event called The Hungry Games, which he hosted several weeks ago in his kitchen facility in Garden Grove.

The Hungry Games pitted a handful of restaurants against each other to see who would be voted Best Dish by the 400 attendees and have bragging rights until the next edition of The Hungry Games.

Among the chefs donating their time, talent and cuisine to the cause were Brian Husky of Tackle Box in Corona del Mar and Costa Mesa, and Trevor Kotchek of Sgt. Pepperoni’s in Newport Beach.

Sgt. Pepperoni won the competition portion of the event, with Tackle Box following close behind in second. Overall, The Hungry Games event raised more than $175,000, surpassing the goal of $120,000.

For more information visit

Lobster from Bluewater Grill

Stuff the Lobster Not the Bird

Most people will have turkey on their minds this month, but Bluewater Grill has a better idea: “Stuff the Lobster Instead of The Bird.”

The original Bluewater Grill restaurant in Newport Beach, along with other So Cal locations, is bringing back its popular fall feast promotion that runs Nov. 12 through Jan. 2, 2020. The restaurant will serve a sustainably harvested version of Holiday Baked Stuffed Maine Lobster, which Bluewater Grill co-founder Jimmy Ulcickas said is a classic family feast that has become a popular New England holiday tradition.

The stuffed lobster dinner kicks-off with an evening tasting event on Nov. 12 featuring a whole Maine lobster stuffed with a special shrimp and buttery panko-crumb stuffing and served with choice of New England or Manhattan Clam Chowder, two sides, unlimited fresh sourdough bread and a Bluewater bib for $45. Paired with the feast will be Sauvignon Blancs from New Zealand and Napa Valley.

If you can’t make it to the Nov. 12 event, the stuffed Maine lobster can be ordered off the menu through Jan. 2 for $45. Paired wines are extra.


Atomic Halloween Ice Cream

Wonder what to do with all your leftover Halloween candy? Atomic Creamery in Fashion Island has an idea.

This weekend, Nov. 1-3, Atomic Creamery is hosting a BYO-Candy event as well as serving up their new seasonal fall flavors.

Grab that leftover Halloween candy and the folks at Atomic will mix it into one of their nostalgic flavors of your choice. It’s an opportunity to create the ice cream of your wildest dreams—dreams that coincide with the candy. Mine will probably be a mix of snickers, peanut butter cups and twix bars.

The new seasonal flavors include Pumpkin Custard, Pomegranate, Pecan Turtle, and even Butter Beer.

Stop by Atomic on Sunday Nov. 3, when the creamery will be giving away 100 free scoops of ice cream. You can even mix your candy in with the free scoop.

Starting at 1 p.m., the first 50 guests in line can each score one complimentary serving of Atomic Creamery ice cream. This sweet deal will conclude at 5 p.m. or until all 50 scoops are claimed.

An additional 50 scoops of ice cream will be awarded online. Follow Atomic Creamery on instagram @atomiccreamery and enter to win by tagging a friend in the comments. Whoever tags the most friends wins one free scoop of ice cream. If chosen, winners can claim their free ice cream anytime between 2 and 4 p.m. on Nov. 3.

For more information, visit


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