resort might be low-keyed compared to the St. Regis or the Ritz down
the road, but the reception Feb. 21 and the service were opulent.
"This is the most over-the-top event I have ever attended -- and I
have attended a lot," Arts Commissioner Pat Kollenda said. "It is the
absolutely the most gorgeous, elegant reception. And the staff is
Without the help of a bartender named Wayne in the Studio
restaurant, this column might not have been written. Imagine a
reporter dumb enough to forget to put pens in her evening bag? Wayne
graciously volunteered the use of his pen -- which he didn't see
again for almost five hours.
There was plenty to write about.
Four hundred to 500 people attended the invitation-only event.
They were treated to tours of the hotel, including the kitchen at the
Studio, one of the resort's four dining facilities.
Restaurant supervisor John Vance proudly showed off the marble
counters, copper pots and imported French stove.
"It took six months to get the stove," he said.
Executive chef John Pflueger grew up in Laguna Beach, said Bill
Blackburn, who went to school with Pflueger's father. Former Mayor
Kathleen Blackburn was quite taken with the intimate private dinning
room adjacent to the kitchen.
"This is where I want to have my birthday party," she said.
Terry Smith and former Councilman Wayne Peterson sampled the food
before touring the kitchen. Planning Commissioner Anne Johnson,
seated with husband, Marv, school board member K Turner and her
partner, Bivens Hunt, at a window table, had "a divine" chocolate
mousse for her starter.
"We are to the manner born," Johnson said.
Others began the evening with oysters. Outdoor grills lured many
of the guests to the swimming pool area, where slabs of meat 4 inches
thick and big enough to a feed a family of four for a couple of days
were being seared.
"What's that?" Mayor Toni Iseman asked.
"Appetizers," the griller replied. Well, maybe after the 24-ounce
New York strip steaks were sliced.
Did we mention the chocolate fountain?
Gallons of Beluga caviar were served in the hotel lobby. Becky