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Ritz-Carlton Culinary Cookout series to host suppers at sunset

Dinner at the Ritz-Carlton, Laguna Niguel during its Culinary Cookout.
(Courtesy of Ritz-Carlton)

In Orange County, there are many opportunities to dine alfresco. Beachside barbecues and coastal restaurants are many, but the Ritz-Carlton, Laguna Niguel combines the two experiences for its Culinary Cookout series.

The outdoor dining series is set on the edge of a bluff overlooking the ocean with specialty offerings from the local food and beverage industry and from concepts within the Dana Point resort. Live music accompanies the lawn seating with patio umbrellas, making the whole event feel like a backyard barbecue you aren’t responsible for cleaning up afterwards.

The series kicked off on Aug. 26 with pitmaster Daniel Castillo of Heritage Barbecue serving his signature smoked meats, and desserts like peach cobbler provided by the resort.

The series continues on Sept. 14 with a Pacific Northwest clambake presented by Quy Trinh that will include a raw bar, salmon candy, albacore crudo and more. The dinner will also include wine pairings from regional producers.

On Oct. 6 the series will present Brews and Bites, with a pop-up appearance from the Bruery, the Placentia-based beer maker and one of Orange County’s first craft beer innovators. The brewery, which celebrates its 14th anniversary this year, will serve a selection of its signature beer-wine hybrids and barrel-aged stouts while the resort will provide dishes like wild boar bratwurst and duck cassoulet flatbread.

Patrons enjoy sunset dining at the Ritz-Carlton, Laguna Niguel's Culinary Cookout.
(Courtesy of Ritz-Carlton)

The remaining events will be centered around two upcoming cultural holidays.

On Oct. 28 the Ritz’s chef de cuisine, Sanjay Rawat, will prepare a spread of traditional regional Indian cuisine for the Diwali holiday, India’s Festival of Lights. Rawat earned his culinary degree in Malaysia and gained experience cooking at places like the five-star Taj Hotel and the Clay Oven. The New Delhi native also heads up the resort’s chef-driven culinary program dedicated to Indian weddings, with dishes that put a modern spin on traditional Indian cuisine.

The series closes on Nov. 3 with a Dia de los Muertos celebration at RAYA, the resort’s signature restaurant and bar, by Richard Sandoval. The Latin-inspired concept at the hotel comes from the renowned Sandoval, who is known for his contemporary Latin cuisine that incorporates flavors of Asia and those native to California.

The James Beard nominated Sandoval grew up in Mexico City and has restaurants in more than 10 countries over four continents. For the resort’s Day of the Dead celebration, Sandoval creates a four-course prix-fixe menu accompanied with specialty tequila cocktails. Live music from a Latin band and professional face painting for the sugar-skull face-paint look that has become synonymous with the holiday will also be available.

Tickets for the events start at $150 and include dinner and two drinks. The events are timed just before sunset, giving diners an optimal view by the time they get to their entrees.

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