The Crowd: Ocean Institute to celebrate 10 years

The Ocean Institute is preparing to celebrate 10 years of jazz.

The anticipated weekend of fine food and fabulous music will take place on Feb. 3-4 at the institute's Dana Point facility. Organizers will partner with radio station 94.7 The Wave and anchors Pat Prescott and Kim Amidon to raise needed funds to support the ocean-orientated educational programs provided year round by the Ocean Institute.

As in years past, producer and performer Rich Braun, an internationally recognized trumpeter and composer, will be joined on stage by pianist David Benoit and saxophonist and vocalist Mindi Abair.

The two-night celebration kicks off Feb. 3, with a reception hosted by Pear Valley Vineyards and Il Fornaio Restaurant. A jazz concert will follow, and tickets are priced between $115 and $145 per person. Of the two performance nights, Friday is the more casual, however, reservations are required.

On Feb. 4, the grand gala gourmet dinner and show begins with a cocktail reception hosted in part by the Park Hyatt Aviara Resort and the Balboa Bay Club & Resort, with the Montage Resort in Laguna Beach sponsoring a martini bar.

More than 200 guests are expected to attend the gourmet dinner and concert, which will feature a four-course epicurean taste extravaganza prepared by celebrated local chefs representing Orange County hotels and resorts, including The Ritz-Carlton, Laguna Niguel; Laguna Cliffs Marriott Resort and Spa; St. Regis Monarch Beach Resort and Spa; and the Montage.

The jazz concert follows dinner with a 9 p.m. showtime. Tickets to the big night are priced at $500 per person, with special benefactor and patron tables available. Again, reservations are required.

Co-chairing the event for the 10th year, Tim McMahon will once again join with Jens Von Gierke in helping to produce a mega-successful weekend of jazz and culinary delights. Over the decade, the celebration has raised more than $735,000 supporting the educational programs that have reached more than 115,000 students and public visitors annually.

Organizers recently invited VIP guests to a "tasting" party at the Montage to show off what is being prepared for the Feb. 4 gourmet dinner.

The late-afternoon gathering began with passed canapés prepared by Krisztian Karkus, executive sous chef of the Balboa Bay Club & Resort, and Chef Pierre Albaladejo of the Park Hyatt Aviara Resort in Carlsbad.

For dinner, a salad of arugula, goat cheese winter grapefruit and smoked almond vinaigrette was prepared by Chef Rob Wilson of the Montage.

To the delight of the "tasting" crowd, two entrées were served: pan-seared jumbo sea scallops, prepared by chef Andres Jimenez of The Ritz-Carlton, Laguna Niguel; and petite prime sirloin, courtesy of chef Erasmo Rodriguez of the Laguna Cliffs Marriott Resort & Spa.

To learn more about the Ocean Institute's 10-year celebration and gala and to purchase tickets, visit, or call Eileen Hayden at (949) 496-2274 ext. 413.

THE CROWD runs Thursdays and Saturdays. B.W. Cook is editor of the Bay Window, the official publication of the Balboa Bay Club in Newport Beach.

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