Award-Winning Breakfast Chefs to Meet for Cook-Off

Laguna Beach, CA, February 11, 2010 --( Casa Laguna Inn and Spa in Laguna Beach, CA, recently announced a unique culinary competition that will take place poolside at the inn on Thursday, February 18. Two of Casa Laguna’s former award winning chefs will be returning to face off against the current executive chef for top breakfast bragging rights.

Judges for the competition include Laguna Beach Mayor Elizabeth Pearson; owner of the Zagat-rated Tabu Grill, Nancy Wilhelm; OC Business Journal Food Reviewer, Fifi Chao; and two returning guests who were married at the inn and have previously experienced the food of all three chefs. The event is closed to the public, and only the press and guests who are registered at the inn for the night prior to the event will be allowed to watch the live competition.

“Our current executive chef, Josh Roberts, was devastated to learn that the annual Select Registry breakfast competition would not be held this year due to the economic downturn,” said Casa Laguna’s General Manager Kathryn Mace. “So we decided to hold our own competition, and give him the chance to prove his worth against our two previous award winners.”

Each chef has been asked to develop and present a unique dish worthy of being placed on the Casa Laguna menu during the coming year. They are required to use fresh local ingredients and techniques that are appropriate for use at the Inn. And, the dish must be prepared under a strict time limit, similar to what they would experience if they were preparing it for the inn’s guests. All three chefs are required to submit their recipes in advance, and they must abide by strict rules, similar to those created for the Select Registry event.

Select Registry’s Distinguished Inns of North America “Inn-Credible Breakfast Cook-Off” had its premier event in 2007, and Casa Laguna’s Chef Peter O’Keefe won the Silver Medal for his Smoked Salmon Crepe Purse with Cream Cheese Dill Mousse and Fennel Oil. At the second annual competition, in 2008, Casa Laguna’s new executive chef, Cale Falk, brought home the Gold Medal for his Dungeness Crab Benedict with Choron Sauce, Fried Shallots & Curry Oil.

Select Registry is an association representing more than 400 country inns, bed & breakfast inns, and unique small hotels across the country. The Inn-Credible Breakfast Cook-off was developed to recognize the best culinary talent and creativity of select inns and boutique hotels.

Built in the 1920’s as a private residence, Casa Laguna would later become an artist colony, then a motel, before being transformed into a 22-room bed & breakfast by Orange County businessmen Francois Leclair and Paul Blank in 2000. Leclair became sole owner just last year, and Kathryn Mace has been General Manager since 2006.

“Our focus has always been on providing an atypical bed & breakfast experience,” said Mace. “And that includes providing a full-service breakfast menu with a choice of creative gourmet dishes designed exclusively by our chefs.”

According to Mace, there are also drawbacks to having award-winning breakfast chefs. “Once words gets out that they have won a national competition, restaurateurs come knocking on their door. Both Chef O’Keefe and Chef Falk were ‘lured’ away by California restaurants within weeks of their wins. Fortunately for Casa Laguna, we’ve always had an excellent assistant chef waiting to move up the ladder, as was the case with Chef Roberts, or as we call him, Chef Josh.” Mace says they also have problems with “walk-ins” who have heard about the inn’s culinary accomplishments and just want to stop in for breakfast. “I always feel bad when I have to tell them we are not a restaurant,” says Mace. “You have to enjoy our ‘beds’ before you enjoy our breakfast.”

Casa Laguna Inn and Spa is located at 2510 South Coast Highway, two blocks south of the Montage in Laguna Beach. Those interested in staying overnight and experiencing the breakfast cook-off can call 949-494-2996 for reservations, or visit the inn’s website,

Casa Laguna Inn & Spa
Kathryn Mace