Chef and artists to unite

Chef Ryan Adams might have to put together the world's most eclectic fruit salad to make his three-course meal stand out this weekend.

After all, he's sharing the table with a wide palette of hues.

For the Sawdust Art Festival's Sustain Local Art and Cuisine fund-raiser Sunday afternoon, more than 20 local craftspeople volunteered to create dinnerware and table-setting pieces for Adams' three-course meal.

It might have been easier and cheaper to buy the dishes at Ikea, but the event's organizers had something more ambitious in mind: a genuine, Laguna-made culinary experience, from the food and the music down to the bowls and glasses.

In an arty town like Laguna, that means the dominant color scheme on the table probably won't be white.

"I knew there would be plates and serving dishes and all that stuff made by other artists, and I kind of looked around at their work to see what their color palette was," said glassblower Muffin Spencer-Devlin, who made cups for the meal. "And then I kind of went crazy."

Spencer-Devlin, a golfer and actress as well as an artist, used two colors for each of her 60 cups, often favoring clashing combinations like purple and orange. The longtime Laguna resident creates glassware in a furnace outside her apartment, dipping a pipe into molten glass and then blowing through it to tease out shapes that she hones with an array of tools.

Sian Poeschl, the city's cultural arts manager and a fellow Sawdust glass artist, hit upon the idea after attending a September culinary event in San Juan Capistrano that featured sustainable produce. While Poeschl had a great time, she thought of a way to take the concept further.

"Their inspiring event highlighted food sustainability, but I noticed the plates and glasses were made in China," she wrote in an e-mail. "What a wonderful opportunity for the Sawdust Art Festival to pair locally sustainable food with locally created artwork."

Poeschl and her team then approached Adams, the owner and executive chef of Three Seventy Common, to plan a menu. The four-hour event, which will allow patrons to take home some of the handcrafted dishware, is part of the four-day Laguna Beach A La Carte event put on by the Laguna Beach Visitors Center.

The Sawdust team hopes to spotlight the Laguna culture in another way through the event: A portion of the proceeds will go to the Sawdust Art Education Fund for a 15-minute video spotlighting local artists. The festival has produced short documentaries in the past offering glimpses of Sawdust members at work, but the series went on hiatus in 2009 because of lack of funding, spokeswoman Cynthia Fung said.

For Adams, the fund-raiser is a chance to help Sawdust and also spotlight the suppliers who provide much of his produce. He noted that he sometimes mentions to customers where they can go to buy the same ingredients.

"The local farmers help us," Adams said. "In turn, we help the local consumers with the idea that this is being done around here and they can purchase at local markets. It's one circle that keeps helping each other."

Twitter: @MichaelMillerHB

If You Go

What: Sustain Local Art and Cuisine

Where: Sawdust Art Festival grounds, 935 Laguna Canyon Road, Laguna Beach

When: 3 to 7 p.m. Sunday

Cost: $195

Information: (949) 494-3030 or

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