Golden Foodies, Tequila for Charity

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A row of golden foodie awards. Winners will be announced on Sept. 29.
— Photo courtesy of Golden Foodies ©

“And the Golden Foodie Award goes to…”

For the past seven years, the annual Golden Foodie Awards have bestowed honors on the best chefs, mixologists and restaurateurs in Orange County as nominated and voted on by the general public (except the categories of Best Chef and Best Pastry Chef).

The list of this year’s nominees is now out. Winners will be revealed at the awards ceremony, held at the Newport Beach Marriott Hotel & Spa on Sept. 29 — a fitting location, since nearly every category has a nominee from Newport Beach.

For Bartender of the Year, the nominees are: Robert Adamson of The Blind Rabbit, Kristin Markley of THE RANCH Restaurant & Saloon, and Ravin Buzzell of CdM.

William Lewis of The Winery Restaurant, which was nominated for Best Wine List for the Golden Foodie Awards.
— Photo courtesy of The Winery ©

In the Best Cocktail in Orange County category, nominees include: BBQ bacon old fashioned at THE RANCH Restaurant & Saloon, wait for it at The Blind Rabbit, and summer rose margarita at Malibu Farm.

For Best Wine Program, the nominees are three of my favorites: Napa Rose, The Winery Restaurant & Wine Bar, and Selanne Steak Tavern.

Nominees for Best Beer program in Orange County: Helmsman Ale House in Newport Beach, Pickled Monk, and The American Dream.

For Best Bar program in Orange County, nominees are: The Blind Pig, Farmhouse at Roger’s Gardens, and Social Costa Mesa.

All three nominees for Best New Restaurant are from Newport Beach: Helmsman Ale House, Fable & Spirit, and CdM Restaurant.

In the Best Lunch Spot in Orange County category, nominees are: Outpost Kitchen, Farmhouse at Roger’s Gardens, and GCH Craftsman Bar & Grill.

Golden Foodie nominee for Best Bar Program, Farmhouse, showing some spring cocktails.
— Photo courtesy of Farmhouse ©

For Best Brunch in Orange County, nominees are: Toast Kitchen Bakery, Sapphire Laguna, and Bosscat Kitchen & Libations.

The 2019 Rising Star Chef of the Year nominees are: Chef Shachi Mehra of Adya, Chef Jared Cook of Vine Restaurant & Bar (as well as Olea in Newport Beach), and Chef Zach Geerson of Journeyman’s.

For Outstanding Community Service, nominees are: Chef Ivan Calderon of Taco Rosa and Taco Mesa, restaurateur Dave Hanna of Hanna’s Restaurant, and chef John Park of Toast and Fill.

Nominees for Restaurateur of the Year include: Darren and Jean Coyle (Fable & Spirit, Dublin 4 Gastropub and Wineworks for Everyone), Russ Bendel (Olea, Vine, Ironwood), and Leslie Nguyen (Bosscat).

Best Dessert in Orange County nominees are: S’mores aroma experience from AVEO Table + Bar, popcorn ice cream from THE RANCH Restaurant & Saloon, and chocolate saucisson from Mixed Bakery in Corona del Mar.

CdM restaurant is nominated for Best New Restaurant in the annual, countywide Golden Foodie Awards.
— Photo courtesy of CdM

For Best Entree in Orange County, the nominees (none from Newport) are: Lord Stanley at Selanne Steak Tavern, cowboy ribeye at THE RANCH Restaurant & Saloon, and miso marinated chilean seabass from TAPS Fish House & Brewery.

The Best Service Award nominees are: Summit House, Villa Roma, and Five Crowns in Corona del Mar.

Up for the 2019 Chef of the Year award, are nominees: Chef Ross Pangilinan of Mix Mix Kitchen Bar, Chef John Park of TOAST, and Chef Amy Lebrun of Lido Bottle Works.

And finally, 2019 Pastry Chef of the Year nominees are: Chef Jacky Martinez of Henry’s Ocean View Dining, Chef Shelly Register of A Market, and Chef Elyssa Fournier of Mixed Bakery in Corona del Mar.

Congratulations to all the nominees. I’ll be at the awards ceremony and will report back on the winners.

 Tequila Battle 

The 7th Annual Battle of the Tequileros at Taco Rosa in Newport Beach from 4 to 8 p.m. on Sept. 22 will feature 34 different tequila and mezcal brands.
— Photo courtesy Taco Rosa ©

Tequila fans, take note: Taco Rosa in Newport Beach is hosting its 7th Annual Battle of the Tequileros on Sept. 22 from 4 to 8 p.m.

The event features 34 different tequila and mezcal brands, tray-passed tapas-style bites from the Taco Rosa kitchen, giveaways, and live music performed by The Agave Bros. of Laguna Beach.

Guests will embark on a tasting journey through which they will determine winners in four categories: Best tequila, best mezcal, best cocktail, and best booth presentation.

The event benefits Operation of Hope Worldwide, a local nonprofit providing free, life-changing surgeries and health care for children and adults in under-served areas of the world, while creating a self-sustaining program of hope through education.

“Over the past seven years, we have seen tremendous growth of Battle of the Tequileros, with more attendees and tequila houses. We’re thrilled to provide tequila enthusiasts with an exciting and educational event which also allow us to support local organizations with a global impact,” said Chef Ivan Calderon, owner of Taco Rosa, who was nominated for a Golden Foodie Award in the Outstanding Community Service category.

Tickets for the 21-and-over event are priced at $100 and offer guests all-inclusive access to tequila and mezcal cocktails and samples, live music, and tapas.

For more information and tickets, visit

Newport Dunes Luau 

I attended the Luau at Newport Dunes over Labor Day weekend and enjoyed the traditional entertainment and cuisine, which included a Samoan pig ceremony.

Because that luau was sold out, Newport Dunes had announced another Luau to be held this October, but due to scheduling conflicts that Luau will not be taking place. Hopefully Newport Dunes will be hosting another luau next summer, but Newport Dunes always has fun events year around. I’ll relay details on upcoming events at Newport Dunes as they become available.

For more information on Newport Dunes activities, visit

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