Four days of food heaven are descending on Laguna Beach, when the annual "Laguna Beach a la Carte – A Food & Wine Experience" returns Thursday and continues through Sunday. The four-day culinary event celebrates world-class cuisine, with local restaurants and wineries offering prix-fixe menus, food and wine pairings, chef demonstrations, events and specials.

Here's a highlight of planned food and wine events:

From 5 to 10 p.m. Friday, experience a Taste of K'ya Bistro at The Rooftop Lounge & Hotel La Casa Del Camino. Award-winning chef Craig Connole will be creating stations to showcase Mediterranean-inspired cuisine. Cost is $30 per person for signature tastes; no host bar. For reservations, call (949) 497-2446.

The signature event, "Laguna Beach Uncorked! – An International Wine & Food Fest," happens from 1 to 4 p.m. Saturday at the Festival of Arts. Guests can sample tastings from 22 Laguna Beach restaurants and 30 international wineries, enjoy live entertainment and chef demonstrations.

A portion of the ticket sales benefits Children's Hospital of Orange County. Tickets can be purchased at The general admission cost is $75, or $95 at the door. VIP admission cost is $125.

Boutique hotel Pacific Edge will be offering a "Snack, Sip & Surf" event from 2 to 5 p.m. Sunday. It's an afternoon full of food, fun and friendly competition, including the best local mixologist, taco, and paddleboard team. Proceeds will go to Mauli Ola, benefiting children with cystic fibrosis.

At the hotel's surf-themed ocean view cabanas, a mixologist will create a signature cocktail. Attendees can vote on their favorite, and the winning drink will become the cocktail of the summer.

The taco competitors include Olamendi's, Basement Table and La Sirena Grill serving up specialty tacos for guests to taste and vote on their favorite. And a paddleboard relay race will take place with four-member teams. Guests can enjoy tray-passed appetizers throughout the day.

For details on more Laguna Beach a la Carte events, restaurant offers and hotel packages, visit


Burgers for a good cause

At 6 p.m. Saturday, come out and support the Boys & Girls Club of the Harbor Area in Costa Mesa for a fun night of food and philanthropy at the "Slide into Spring" burger bash tasting event. As a guest you can sample unlimited tastes and enjoy drinks from a hosted bar from 6 to 7 p.m.

I'll be judging the Burger Bash competition, along with Gustavo Arellano, editor of OC Weekly and Chef Jamie Gwen.

Participating restaurants include:

Beach Pit BBQ serving BBQ pork sliders; Playground in Santa Ana, serving mini burgers with house-aged beef, maple bourbon onions, double yolk mayo, classic lettuce and gruyere/fontina cheese; the Golden Truffle serving ground chuck cheeseburger with traditional toppings and homemade ketchup; Avanti Café serving the only vegetarian burger with whole grain, adzuki bean and brown rice served on toasted organic ciabatta bread with coriander mustard, lemon-lime smoky ketchup, dill pickle and roasted yam with garlic shallot or havarti cheese; The Newport Rib Co. serving a Brisketalicious Coleslaw Slider; Memphis Café serving American Bison slider with gorgonzola cheese and cranberry mayo; Wingnuts serving BBQ Kobe beef sliders and pulled pork sliders. The Queen's Bakery and Blackmarket Bakery will serve incredible sweets to round out the evening.

In addition to the food tasting and competition, there will be a live and silent auction, as well as live music by the Fabulous Nomads. Cost is $75 per person, and you'll be helping to serve more than 2,500 local youths. The Boys & Girls Club-Lou Yantorn Branch is at 2131 Tustin Ave., Costa Mesa.

To order tickets, call (949)642-2245, or visit


Travel back into time

Elsewhere in Costa Mesa on Saturday night, from 6 to 10 p.m., come to the Center Club to celebrate "Time of Your Life" to benefit Alzheimer's research at the UC Irvine Institute for Memory Impairments and Neurological Disorders (MIND).