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The Crowd: Local celebrity chef Amar Santana returns to Bravo’s ‘Top Chef’

Chef Amar Santana of Vaca and the Hall Global Eatery, South Coast Plaza, with Top Chef host Padma Lakshmi.
Chef Amar Santana of Vaca and the Hall Global Eatery, South Coast Plaza, with Top Chef host and executive producer Padma Lakshmi. Santana will return to TV’s “Top Chef” this season.
(Courtesy of Lee Healy)

O.C. foodies take note: Local celeb chef Amar Santana, chef-owner and business partner of Ahmed Labbate of both Vaca and the Hall Global Eatery at South Coast Plaza and Broadway in Laguna, returns to the new television season of “Top Chef"on Bravo.

Santana, widely acclaimed and known for bold, robust flavors, will serve on the show as a judge joining past “All Star” alumni chefs.

Ralph Opacic, founder and executive director of Orange County School of the Arts announces his retirement as of July 1. More than three decades of dedication to arts education in Southern California began when Opacic was a young man following his dream of pursuing a music career. He soon discovered that his real passion was inspiring young people from the next generation to pursue an arts education in order to grow and develop their talent.

With a bachelor’s degree in music, Opacic first landed a job as choir director at Los Alamitos High School, transforming the program from some 30 students to more than 300. In 1987, securing a state grant, he embarked on the journey that would lead him to create an arts school containing a secular educational curriculum with a “world class” arts curriculum.

First opening in Los Alamitos, OCSA would eventually settle in Santa Ana in 2000, where it remains. In 2017 OCSA was named one of California’s Gold Ribbon Schools. It is also recognized as an Arts School National 2017-2022 Exemplary School.

Opacic will be followed by Teren Shaffer as executive director. Shaffer currently holds the position of executive vice president for the Foundation Board.

The USC-UCLA athletic rivalry is alive and well all over SoCal, and it will be in full focus June 11 at Pelican Hill Golf Club. The fourth annual Rivals Cup, benefiting Kure It Cancer Research Foundation is being labeled USC vs. The World. So, it’s not just UCLA this summer on the greens, all university rivals challenging USC are invited.

2020 Rivals Cup First Place winners.
First-place winners of the 2020 Rivals Scottie Upshall (former professional hockey player), Anaheim Ducks star Ryan Getzlaf, PJ McKaig and Hossein Karimi with Rivals Cup Chair Burton Young, president Sperry Equities, course sponsor at Pelican Hill Golf Club, Newport Coast.
(Courtesy of Tony Lattimore)

Tournament proceeds will still benefit USC Norris and UCLA Jonsson Cancer Centers, two of the most vital and respected medical centers treating cancer patients and doing research on the West Coast.

Newport’s much-admired jewelers Idit and Moti Ferder of Lugano Diamonds will once again step up with sponsorship. They join underwriters Rolex Watch and Aston Martin of Newport Beach. The Friday golf event and dinner is being chaired by dedicated volunteers Burton Young and Kure It Board Chair Todd Perry.

Mike McOwen, 2020 Rivals Cup Closest to the Pin winner Mike Joseph, Joseph Cokington at Pelican Hill Golf Club.
Mike McOwen, 2020 Rivals Cup Closest to the Pin winner Mike Joseph, Joseph Cokington at Pelican Hill Golf Club, Newport Coast.
(Courtesy of Tony Lattimore)

Local Child advocate Christina Ruiz will be honored with the Children’s Friend Award at the Upcoming 35th annual Childhelp Fashion Show and Luncheon set for June 14 at Balboa Bay Resort, Newport Beach.

Ruiz is a respected advocate for victims of abuse, homelessness and sex trafficking. “As a female business owner Christina Ruiz provides training and education development services for foster families, law enforcement and children’s programs, including Childhelp staff,” said Christine Johnson, who handles publicity for Childhelp Orange County.

Alexa and Debra Violette, Childhelp Members attending a past Childhelp Luncheon and Fashion Show.
Alexa and Debra Violette, Childhelp Members attending a past Childhelp Luncheon and Fashion Show held at the Balboa Bay Resort. This year’s live event will take place June 14 at Balboa Bay Resort.
(Courtesy of Christine Johnson)

Major donors Michael and Jacquie Casey will be honored with Childhelp’s Inspirational Award. Michael Casey made his fortune by getting in on the ground floor of the American coffee craze and wife Jacquie is intent on sharing a nice portion of their good fortune with children in need. She has been a devoted Childhelp volunteer and advocate for years.

The live fashion show luncheon will again be produced by South Coast Plaza. It has been a landmark fashion presentation on the California Riviera for at least two decades. SCP executives will team up with couture boutiques including Lafayette 148 New York, Diptyque Paris and many more presenting a spectacular afternoon on the runway. For tickets and information go to childhelp.org.

Joy Whitlock-Estrada and Pam Pharris, Childhelp members, enjoy a previous Childhelp Luncheon and Fashion Show.
Joy Whitlock-Estrada and Pam Pharris, Childhelp Members, enjoy a previous Childhelp Luncheon and Fashion Show. This year’s event will take place June 14 at the Balboa Bay Resort.
(Courtesy of Christine Johnson)

If you want to watch some great local tennis in Newport over Memorial Weekend, don’t miss the Roy Emerson Adoption Guild Classic. The 60-year tradition unfolds at Palisades Tennis Club, sponsored by the Orange County Breakers.

Four days of tennis, parties post event and a deluxe silent auction benefiting the Adoption Guild in support of Holy Family Adoption and Foster Care in the O.C. is a much loved local early summer tradition.

Tickets and event information at adoptionguild.org.

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