The Valley Line: Chamber of Commerce crowns Miss La Cañada Flintridge

After experiencing the deep freeze of last week, this weekend's sunshine was so welcome. On Sunday morning I sat in my outdoor patio swing and finished up an epic 3,435-page book I had been reading for some time. The book, simply called "New York," had a good ending, and my world seemed blissful.

I'm sure that all of you also truly appreciated the turn in our weather. The weather people on television seemed to be dancing a happy jig as they forecast this change.

It was evident by last Thursday evening that the warming trend had begun, and that the more than 150 people gathered at the La Cañada Flintridge Country Club for the 101st La Cañada Flintridge Chamber of Commerce and Community Assn. installation and awards dinner were in a jovial mood.

It was a wonderfully presented program under the direction of Pat Anderson, chief executive and president of the chamber, and her staff of June Beemer, Starr Frazier and Olivia Brown.

There was a hum of excitement bouncing around the room. Nick Berkuta was emcee for the evening. Also stepping to the podium to make remarks and announce awards were LCF Mayor Steve Del Guercio and Wes Seastrom, president of the chamber's board of directors.

The five lovely young women comprising the La Cañada Flintridge court were looking quite beautiful in their long, beaded gowns. The girls' official wardrobe is provided by Bloomingdale's Department Store in Sherman Oaks. I'll spare you a long wait and tell you right now who the new Miss La Cañada Flintridge is: Courtney Perry. Joining her on this 2013 court are Stephanie Beck, Chelsea Johnson, Madison Johnson and Nora Sagal.

Introducing the court were Jane Owen and Mindy DiPaolo of the La Cañada Junior Women's Club who are advisors for the court. Lauren Barsamian, Miss LCF for 2012, was on hand to present the tiara to Courtney.

The stunning tiaras of the court were designed last year and manufactured by Cañada Jewelry & Gifts. Jack Malian, one of the owners of this family-owned store, was named businessman of year.

Along with Malian, other recipients of community service awards included Jeanne Wallace, ambassador of the year; Los Gringos Locos, business of the year, was accepted by owner Bent Hansen, along with members of his family and some of the employees of the restaurant; the band, “Misplaced Priorities” won the community spirit award. Tom Reynolds, one of the founding band members, accepted the award on behalf of the group.

Business milestone recognition was given to the La Cañada Flintridge Branch of Los Angeles County Library, which has been in the community for 100 years, and the YMCA of the Foothills, which has served the community for 55 years.

2012 marked the second year of the chamber's summer intern scholarship program. Six local employers and six students from La Cañada High School participated in the program. These six students were selected from a group of 19 applicants.

The students introduced were Arushi Gulati, who worked at the YMCA; Leeho Lim, Allen Lund Company; Audrey Lunde, Sport Chalet; Eric Miller, Verdugo Hills Hospital; Caitlyn Seto, Citizens Business Bank; and Maxwell Williams, city of La Cañada Flintridge. Each intern received a scholarship check for $1,200. Eric Miller was recognized as “Intern of the Year,” and he received an additional check for $800.

Installed as new officers for the chamber board included Wes Seastrom, Kim Beattie, Linda Taix Paccone, Ed Lund, Jack Schaedel, Katherine Markgraf, Tammy Smith and Joel Peterson.

Business directors installed were Rob Fuelling, Suzanne Hart, Leonard LaBella, Patrick Liddell, Ed Lund, Greg Powell, Wes Seastrom, Sue Stranger, Linda Taix Paccone, Jackie Walls and Rion Zimmerman.

Directors at large installed were Tony Chahine, Caroline Craven, Sister Carolyn McCormack, Erik Ovanespour, Joel Peterson, Nick Sarkisian, Jack Schaedel and Terry Sneed.

The following night, more than 300 people, many from La Cañada, went out to get a sneak peek at the 49th Pasadena Showcase House of Design, which is in Arcadia this year.

The Monterey Colonial home was designed by Roland Coate, Sr. and built in 1941. This is a second look for this grand house because it was a Showcase House in 2000. Many of the design features that were installed then remain, but soon they will only be a memory because the new team of interior and exterior designers are, as we speak, removing all traces and beginning to install their visions for this house that will be open to the public April 21 through May 19.

Greeting guests to this preview were Kathryn Hofgaarden, an LCF resident and president of the Pasadena Showcase House for the Arts, and Katherine Watkins, benefit chair.

Also welcoming new arrivals were Donna Gotch, last year's benefit chair and Beverly Marksbury, immediate past president of the organization.

Since I had not seen a list of designers for this year's house before attending the party, I was delighted to learn that La Cañada residents Annsley Strong and her daughter Courtney Thomas are designing the “Readers Retreat.”

This is the first Pasadena Showcase House presentation for Annsley and Courtney, although Strong Studio Designs is not new to the design business — Annsley founded it 27 years ago. This mother-daughter team is dynamite together and their plans for this design area promise to be spectacular. Annsley says they are thrilled to be making their dual debut at Showcase House.

Jan Ledgard of Yorkshire Kitchens Inc., also based here in LCF, will be designing the “Pool House.” Jan is a return designer to Showcase House, and she is looking forward to being there once again.

This “Empty House Party” is always such a fun event, and the food, prepared by the Kitchen for Exploring Foods, is always amazing. Guests drift from room to room sampling the offerings.

The seafood station presented steamed big shrimp, cracked Alaskan king crab legs, a variety of raw oysters with margarita ice, steamed mussels and clams Rockefeller. These sea delicacies were enhanced with lemon aioli, red pepper aioli, Dijon sauce, mignonette sauce, bloody Mary sauce and lemon wedges and wheels.

The dining room was the Italian stop, where braised boneless beef short ribs, in red wine and wild mushroom sauce, was featured. This dish was accompanied by polenta with roasted corn kernels, truffle mashed potatoes with crispy leeks, haricot vert with sautéed shallots and rosemary focaccia.

There was also an Asian station with chicken skewers with peanut sauce, teriyaki beef skewers, grilled vegetable skewers, scallions, red and yellow peppers and eggplant with miso glaze, fried rice with egg, mushrooms, peas, carrots and peppers.

For south-of-the-border aficionados, one of the upstairs rooms offered assorted quesadillas, chicken and black beans, Quattro queso, beef empanadas, miniature chili rellenos with chipotle sauce, tri-color tortilla chips with roasted tomato salsa, papaya salsa, the Kitchen's guacamole, and ensalada Mexicana.

The big finale was the dessert room when guests tasted miniature crème brulee, ultimate chocolate cupcakes with a ganache filling and chocolate butter cream frosting, apple upside-down cake with vanilla bean ice cream and caramel sauce, miniature pear spice cake with caramel butter crème and Seckel pear crisps. There was also a huge bowl of fresh berries and Grand Marnier cream.

As you can see, this party always offers fabulous foods, something that people look forward to each year.

The designers and the members of Pasadena Showcase House for the Arts organization are working hard to make certain that on April 21 this property, from the house to the gardens, is perfect for its grand opening.


JANE NAPIER NEELY covers the La Cañada social scene. Email her at with news of your special event.

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