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On Food: Diners serve 2018 Golden Foodie Awards to Orange County's top independent restaurants

On Food: Diners serve 2018 Golden Foodie Awards to Orange County's top independent restaurants
An exuberant Kevin Franke of Olea takes the Best New Restaurant award Sunday evening at the 2018 Golden Foodies in Newport Beach. (Photo by Spencer Grant)

Fans of the Orange County culinary community honored their favorites Sunday, with a Costa Mesa-based chef taking home the top prize.

The seventh annual Golden Foodie Awards at the Newport Beach Marriott Hotel & Spa honored Noah von Blöm of Arc Food & Libations with its Chef of the Year Award.

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Winners were chosen by popular vote. Nominees were required to be from independent restaurants.

Winners likened the golden statues, which feature a figure holding a covered tray, to the Academy Awards of their industry.

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Von Blöm, who also operates Arc Pizza House and the Guild Club in Costa Mesa, runs the establishments alongside his wife, Marín.

The duo is known for the wood-fire cooking at Arc, which opened in 2013. They are also opening Arc Butcher & Baker in Newport Beach this fall.

Olea staffers Russ Bendel, Gabe Whorley and Kyle Simpson celebrate winning Best New Restaurant of the Year.
Olea staffers Russ Bendel, Gabe Whorley and Kyle Simpson celebrate winning Best New Restaurant of the Year. (Photo by Spencer Grant)

In his brief acceptance speech, Von Blöm thanked his staff and wife, who writes their menus and designs their restaurants.

The Blind Rabbit, a speakeasy-style bar that opened in Anaheim’s Packing District in 2015, took home the most awards from a single establishment, with three: Bartender of the Year (Lynette Lim), Best Bar Program and Best Cocktails.

In her acceptance speech, Lim said, “Every last cocktail we serve is made with love.”

Robert Adamson of The Blind Rabbit won both Best Bar Program and Best Cocktails. At left is his wife, Ying Chang. Presenters were Michael Cho, right, and Tina Borgatta.
Robert Adamson of The Blind Rabbit won both Best Bar Program and Best Cocktails. At left is his wife, Ying Chang. Presenters were Michael Cho, right, and Tina Borgatta. (Photo by Spencer Grant)

The other winners were:

  • Selanne Steak Tavern (Laguna Beach), Best Wine Program

  • Provisions Market (Orange), Best Beer Program

  • Olea (Newport Beach), Best New Restaurant

  • Taco Rosa (Irvine, Newport Beach), Best Lunch Spot

  • Taps Fish House & Brewery (Brea, Irvine, Corona), Best Brunch

  • Ross Pangilinan (Mix Mix Kitchen Bar of Santa Ana, and Terrace by Mix Mix of Costa Mesa), Rising Star Chef of the Year

  • Dave Hanna (Hannah’s Restaurant and Bar, Rancho Santa Margarita), Outstanding Community Service

  • Javier Cuadra (Urbana Mexican Gastronomy and Mixology, Anaheim), Restaurateur of the Year

  • The Ranch Restaurant and Saloon (Anaheim), Best Dessert

  • Prime rib at the Summit House Restaurant (Fullerton), Best Entrée

  • Connie Aboubakare (OC Comestibles), Favorite Food Influencer

  • The Winery Restaurant & Wine Bar (Newport Beach, Tustin, La Jolla), Best Service Award

  • Jamon Harper (Monarch Beach Resort, Dana Point), Pastry Chef of the Year

Prior to the awards ceremony, which was held in a ballroom decked out with dynamic blue and purple lighting, hundreds of guests ate and drank in the Marriott’s courtyard.

AnQi, Baja Shellfish Farms, Urbana Mexican Gastronomy, Cambalache and other Orange County restaurants served samples.

Event proceeds benefit the Laguna Niguel-based Golden Rule Charity, which helps hospitality industry workers in times of need.

Food Network star Simon Majumbar served as co-host alongside Neil Saavedra of “The Fork Report” on KFI AM-640.

The Los Angeles Times, which owns and publishes Times OC, sponsored the event.

Chef Linda Johnsen offers Chiu Wang a confection at the Filomena's Restaurant table. Manny, left, and Santiago Filomena smile.
Chef Linda Johnsen offers Chiu Wang a confection at the Filomena's Restaurant table. Manny, left, and Santiago Filomena smile. (Photo by Spencer Grant)
Guests mingle on the Marriott Newport Beach's terrace, snacking on gourmet tidbits. Maggie Israel and Shirley Salvatore are in the foreground.
Guests mingle on the Marriott Newport Beach's terrace, snacking on gourmet tidbits. Maggie Israel and Shirley Salvatore are in the foreground. (Photo by Spencer Grant)
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