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The Best of O.C.

2015 is officially here! And, let’s face it: After the tinsel is put away and the Champagne-fueled countdowns are over, the new year can be somewhat of a drag. But we resolved to change all that by scouring the region to bring you the ne plus ultra of what Orange County has to offer. Our findings cover culture, health & beauty, style, design, and food & nightlife with the Modern Luxury élan you’ve come to know and love. Plus: Each section reveals the results of our Readers’ Choice survey. So turn the page and enjoy. In with the new! In with the best!

OC Music Awards producer Ashley Eckenweiler (Nightlife)

BEST OF O.C. | CULTURE

The Violinist
Jessica Haddy was in the fourth grade when she first picked up a violin and fell in love with the instrument. She took lessons from her grandfather, a classical violinist, and today the Laguna Beach local wields his vintage Italian violin, performing solo and as a duo at special events and luxury weddings with her guitarist husband, Ryan, as The Haddys. She’s performed at the Reagan Library for Nancy Reagan, George W. Bush and his wife, Laura. And she’s appeared in music videos with Elton John, Sheryl Crow, Sting and Randy Travis. She also worked with The Who frontman Roger Daltrey on the first stage production of Quadrophenia. So what’s next? Well, The Haddys are now working on their first album, which is due out this summer. Bravo!

The Who Hits 50
When it comes to a golden anniversary, it’s never too early to start planning—especially when it involves a legendary rock band like The Who, which will take the stage at Honda Center on Sept. 16. Yes, The Who turns 50 this year and will take audiences on a musical journey, performing everything from their first hit single, “I Can’t Explain,” to favorites from the pioneering rock opera Tommy to the brand-new track “Lucky.” Book a suite and lounge on a leather sofa as you party with up to 20 friends. The $7,000 starting price includes a private entrance, food and drink service, and a first-rate view. Other VIP offerings are available from Ticketmaster and range from reserved seating in the first three rows to a preshow sound check and performance by members of the band. “It’s going to be a night to remember,” says Honda Center President and CEO Tim Ryan. ticketmaster.com

Readers’ Choice: Favorite Galleries
Orange County’s fine-arts scene is thriving with a vibrant mix of talents, and these are the places that showcase them best.

1. Dawson Cole Fine Art Since 1993, this Laguna Beach gallery has been exhibiting compelling works—everything from sculptures to drawings (including pieces by artistic greats such as Paul Gauguin, Henri Matisse and Pablo Picasso), with a special focus on early modern and West Coast regionalism. 2. Art Cube Gallery Sanja Simidzija is this gallery’s Serbia-born founder, and she’s filled her space with avant-garde works by artists who can spark humor, stir emotion and provoke deep thought. 3. JoAnne Artman Gallery Here, you’ll find a captivating collection of modern and contemporary art, with pop culture themes that are both playful and insightful. Among her roster of noteworthy core artists: Pedro Bonnin, Anja Van Herle and James Verbicky. 4. Coast Gallery With works by artists like Todd White and Irina Sharie on display, this space is filled with pieces that range from bold and baudy to reflective and romantic. 5. Peter Blake Gallery Founder Peter Blake is credited with opening Laguna Beach’s first contemporary art gallery, and in the 21 years since, he’s consistently filled his space with stunning modern sculptures, paintings and mixed media works, showing that he continues to dominate the forefront of Orange County’s fine-arts scene.

Sights & Sounds
A chance encounter between Pacific Symphony Music Director Carl St.Clair and renowned documentary filmmaker Greg MacGillivray resulted in an ambitious collaboration—a brilliant new score celebrating the oceans set to a thrilling video by the king of Imax. Titled Fire & Water, it will delight Segerstrom Center audiences June 11 to 13, as part of the symphony’s Music Unwound series. The commissioned score by Emmy-winning composer Laura Karpman will be conducted by St.Clair. And that piece is bookmarked by the music of Wagner and Vivaldi. Select Box Circle seats can be reserved for $185.

Roll of a Lifetime
When the world premiere of New York playwright Kimber Lee’s Tokyo Fish Story hits the stage March 8 at South Coast Repertory, you’ll be privy to one of the most promising new plays in American theater. “SCR has been reading Kimber’s new work for the past two years,” SCR Literary Director Kelly Miller says. Lee’s work has garnered a Ruby Prize, a PoNY Fellowship and an Aetna New Voices Fellowship. This newest play takes on the competitive world of sushi-making in Japan, telling the story of sushi master Koji and his protégé, Takashi, who is too respectful to display his talent. 

Process of Illumination
On the local college arts scene, everyone’s attention is on UCI Chancellor Howard Gillman, who is unveiling his new Illuminations initiative, designed to expose all students to the arts and strengthen the institution’s connection with high-powered regional arts and culture groups. Heading up the program is Julia Lupton, an English professor and the School of Humanities’ associate dean for research. She’s known for her innovative and collaborative approach. “My dream is to see art occurring at various locations across the campus that is themed toward different disciplines—cell-slide art or patterns generated by motion in physics, for example,” says Lupton. Look for six to eight public events per year—art exhibits, and dance, drama and music pop-ups, with opportunities for students to interact with artists, writers and performers.

Top Five: Can’t-Miss Music Fests
1. Doheny Blues Fest
Some 20,000 music fans from as far away as Europe gather for a weekend of blues. Beth Hart and Paul Rogers headline the 18th annual fest May 16 and 17, joined by acts on three stages at Doheny State Beach.

2. Fullerton’s Day of Music
Social Distortion, No Doubt and The Offspring all hail from Orange County, which also is the birthplace of the Fender guitar—that was Fullerton, actually. And June 21, you’ll be able to see concerts throughout the city of Fullerton. 

3. Laguna Beach Music Festival
Experience four days of performances from the likes of the Los Angeles Guitar Quartet. It kicks off Feb. 12. And a new work, Ymir (written for the fest by composer Jeffrey Holmes), will be performed Feb. 13. 

4. Newport Beach Jazz Festival
World-class musicians will play before a backdrop of breathtaking Back Bay views May 29-31. The fest kicks off with a VIP show in the amphitheater and then moves to the golf course. 

5. OC Music Awards
The 2015 installment moves to the fall, but it will still feature the signature Showcase Series of concerts leading up to the main event. Discover local up-and-comers before they break into the big time. 

BEST OF O.C. | HEALTH & BEAUTY

Readers’ Choice: Favorite Fitness Centers
When you live in a warm coastal climate like the Orange County Riviera, you need to keep your body in swimsuit shape.

1. Equinox This workout destination looks more like a spa than a fitness center, with a lap pool lined with cabanas and lounges, eucalyptus-scented towels, a steam room and an outdoor deck—that’s, of course, in addition to a weight room, and yoga, cycling and barre studios. And let’s not forget the spa, where well-trained hands will massage those aching muscles. 2. 24 Hour Fitness With centers throughout Orange County, you can pop in for a workout just about anywhere you happen to be at any hour of the day and night. Each location offers a roster of programs like yoga and martial arts-inspired classes. Some centers even have water aerobics. 3. Bari Studio Here, fitness buffs can find a workout to suit just about any preference, whether it’s bouncing on a trampoline, cardio dance or strength training. 4. Grit Cycle Marisa Wayne (the youngest daughter of American film icon John Wayne) opened this indoor cycling studio two years ago, and it’s since become a much buzzed-about center, where you can get a heart-pumping workout in an environment that fosters camaraderie. 5. Stark Training Total body fitness and health—that’s the focus here. It all begins with a body assessment that includes a review of your medical history, and those findings are used to create a program specifically tailored to help you achieve your goals.

Magic Potion
Blending nature, science and 20-plus years of extensive research, Irvine-based Noevir’s BioSign Inner Treatment uses gene technology that targets the core of the skin to fight the aging process. The serum’s advanced scientific approach uses your own genes to stimulate your skin’s natural recovery process. The luxurious treatment, which takes advantage of microcapsule technology, boasts gene-boosting benefits such as pure plant extracts of Japanese rose, jujube and lipid ceramide. $220 for 1.62 oz.

The Beauty Expert
Beach-blond beauty Charlene Florian has brought her family’s international brand to a luxe new level with a Kerstin Florian (the company’s named after her mother, who founded the brand) line of products that incorporate rich, rejuvenating ingredients like caviar, nutrient-packed plant extracts and minerals. And she’s recently paired those offerings with well-trained and knowledgeable therapists at Spa Montage. “We share a strong lifestyle philosophy, and embody the importance and luxury of living well and maintaining a healthy, natural approach to skin and body care,” says Florian, the chief creative officer. Two new results-oriented facials were created with its caviar-based skin-care collection, and each provides for an easy home-care ritual. The Deluxe Caviar Facial combines powerful antioxidants, protein-rich caviar, supernutrient CoQ10 and marine-based ingredients for gentle, superrefining exfoliation, while the Acu-Lift Massage firms, hydrates and nourishes the skin. 60-minute facial, $235, 90-minute facial, $315

Top Five: Rejuvenation Retreats
1. Obagi Skin Health Institute
Dr. Zein Obagi’s Stem Cell Extract Facial at this Laguna Beach medispa uses a rare apple stem to target and correct skin at the cellular level, allowing for regeneration of aging and damaged skin. $350

2. Spa at Pelican Hill
The Diamond Indulgence package includes the Natura Diamond Experience facial, followed by the Magnetic Ritual body treatment, shimmering mud scrub with diamond dust and the diamond mani-pedi. $595-$720

3. Spa Montage
The Romantic Couples Journey places sweethearts in a sun-filled suite and includes orange-ginger exfoliating treatments, a marine mineral bath soak and blissful full-body massages. $630

4. Spa Nordstrom
No matter the beauty fix, Spa Nordstrom at South Coast Plaza has you covered—from last-minute waxing, oxygen facials and body wraps to Moroccan oil mani-pedis, airbrush tans and lash extensions. $50-$195

5. The St. Regis Spa Gaucin
Book the Purifying Detox Ritual and rid your skin of impurities with a polishing body scrub, followed by a warm marine mud wrap and a seawater-gel lymph massage to rid the body of excess fluids. $395

12 Steps
The 12 fitness brand has gained a cult-like following for those looking to upgrade their exercise regimes and live healthier lifestyles. Scott Perry, the chief training officer, uses a customized training program to help clients maximize their gym time and produce the best results—cutting body fat and building muscle using free weights, resistance and your own body weight in alternating ways in a daily workout. Clients get nutritional guidance in the carefully monitored 12 Week Fitness Challenge, which includes a 10-day detox and metabolic cleanse, weekly body-fat testing and a heart-rate monitor for real-time results from your workouts. Only three programs—or, as the team calls them, challenges—are scheduled each year at The 12’s centers in Irvine and Costa Mesa. The next one begins Jan. 26. $1,200

Kickin’ It
It’s the brainchild of former L.A. Galaxy soccer player Eddie Lewis—the TOCA Touch Trainer, which you’ll only find at his new 10,000-square-foot TOCA Training Center in Costa Mesa. Similar contraptions have been available to baseball and tennis players, but never before to soccer players. It’s a customizable, precise ball-delivery system designed to help players of all ages improve their athletic performance on the field. And it can be programmed to change ball intervals, speed and direction, giving players (who can train in teams, in groups or individually) 10 games worth of quality touches in a 50-minute session. IPads track results, so players can assess their actions. “The TOCA trainer allows players to practice their touches and, in turn, improve their technique and elevate their games,” says Lewis. Starting at $55 for a 50-minute training session

BEST OF O.C. | STYLE

The Style Queens
With fashion design in their roots and surf style in their DNA, Summer Rapp (Summer of Seventy Eight) and Mandy Fry (whose resume includes time at Billabong and Volcom) are riding the wave of the popular beach-meets-street look with their new Amuse Society line of apparel. Inspired by the creative range of women of all walks of life, Rapp and Fry designed a line that blends a rock ’n’ roll vibe with a hint of bohemian style. Their muses: women in music, art, design and philanthropy. “It’s our vision to create a culture that supports women and their crafts,” says Fry. “We’ve dedicated space within our brand to personify these women in a collaborative, storytelling way.” Amuse Society’s inaugural spring 2015 collection began hitting the racks at shops such as Jack’s, Diane’s and other specialty boutiques in November, and can also be purchased online. 

Steppin’ Out!
“Lythe” once meant flexible and soft. But to Jimmy Choo (there’s a shop at SCP, of course), it’s now the name of this eye-catching sandal with detailed 5-inch heels. It’s fashioned from colorful layered leather and splashy suede, kicking up sporty sex appeal with strong shapes and tonal textures. Cutout sides meet with yellow honeycomb panels to create a decisively updated design and distinctive silhouette. Stride in style, whether you pair the steppers with denim or dress them up for date night. Sometimes the best part of choosing your ensemble begins with what goes on your feet. $1,195

Readers’ Choice: Favorite Boutiques
Orange County has a style all its own, and these shops understand our local stylistas’ surf-to-chic sensibilities.

1. Allegra at The Resort at Pelican Hill Here’s where you’ll find fashions from Magaschoni and Bugatchi Uomo right alongside styles by Hudson Jeans and VIX Swimwear. But that’s exactly what we’d expect from a place like Pelican Hill. 2. Aris on the Coast We all love the mantra here: “Simple elegance. Undefined luxury. Classic chic.” And the boutique’s founder, Trey Russell, keeps his word, with high-end fashions from design houses like Helmut Lang, René Lezard and Adriano Goldschmied. 3. Bardot Dana Harmon was so inspired by the effortlessly sexy and chic look of Brigitte Bardot that she named her boutique after the Paris-born actress. And it’s where you’ll find modern, fashionable lines such as Vince, Equipment, Haute Hippy and Joie. 4. Bayfront Boutique at Balboa Bay Resort There are plenty of reasons to make your way to the Balboa Bay Resort, and this boutique is one of them. You’ll find everything from poolside apparel to eveningwear for women and men. Need a shiny bauble to go with that new sensational ensemble? You can shop for that here too. 5. Novacento Since 2004, this has been the place where the well-heeled coastal crowd goes to find just the right outfit for that special occasion. It’s known for its curated collection of luxury fashions by well-established and emerging designers, with a range of styles that will leave you looking smashing—whether you’re headed to a red-carpet affair or a cocktail party along the coast.

Carry On
We call it the ultimate everything bag. With Gucci’s Bamboo Shopper, you’ll be fashionable and functional as you dash between luncheons and meetings (and SCP is on the way to everywhere). The light pink and maple brown python tote has magnet closures, large interior zipper compartments and a smartphone pocket. And, of course, it’s got Gucci’s patented and iconic bamboo handles, but it also comes with an attachable strap, so you can sling it over your shoulder. $3,200

The “It” Girl
Irvine’s fab fashion expert Emily Loftiss is fast becoming the go-to gal for savvy style commentary. She’s shared her trend reports on Fox’s The Real, and CBS’ Early Show and The Insider. Up next? She’s planning to host a How to Dress for Your Body workshop in Atlanta and a New Year, New You media tour. Her blog, Loftiss Says, has followers from 89-plus countries. She offers advice on beauty and fashion, red-carpet wardrobe recreations, how to dress 10 pounds lighter and more. Notes Loftiss: “I have a career doing what I love.”

Chanel Redux
The esteemed fashion house is ringing in the new year with a new 13,000-square-foot space at South Coast Plaza. The impressively spacious redesigned boutique is part of a dramatic makeover, and this spring, Chanel will celebrate the unveiling. Expect to see a larger selection of the brand’s coveted collections in a grand, glamorous space that’s configured in sections to allow for more privacy while shopping. And all of those lustworthy offerings will be displayed like artwork as shoppers move from one area to the next. But, after all, every Chanel creation is a work of art. 

Top Five: Favorite New Shops
1. A. Lange & Söhne
Known internationally for its exquisite timepieces, A. Lange & Söhne moves into its first West Coast boutique at South Coast Plaza later this year. The luxury brand produces a limited number of pieces each year. 

2. Calypso St. Barth
A favorite stop for chic cabana and beach essentials, Calypso St. Barth will open this summer at Fashion Island. You’ll find breezy caftans and flowy frocks alongside must-have bikinis, hats and scarves.

3. Céline
Brand loyals will no longer have to trek to L.A. to buy Céline’s iconic luggage tote and Trapeze bag once the brand opens its new 2,300-square-foot boutique at South Coast Plaza this summer.

4. Dolce & Gabbana
Dolce & Gabbana opens its first boutique in South Coast Plaza this spring. Besides carrying sexy ready-to-wear collections, the store will also have specialists in makeup, fragrances and skin care at your service.

5. Marlowe’s
From the owners of Coastal Cool boutique in Crystal Cove comes this stylish shop, which is set to open at Fashion Island in the spring with a chic selection of designer denim, cozy cashmere and more.

BEST OF O.C. | DESIGN

Readers’ Choice: Favorite Home-Design Stores
These O.C. showrooms know that, just like your wardrobe, your home is an expression of your style and tastes.

1. Cantoni In the years since its founding in Dallas back in 1984, Cantoni has become known as a place to find modern furnishings from manufacturers such as Gallotti & Radice, Malerba, Natuzzi Italia and American Leather. 2. Restoration Hardware Here’s a place with plenty of eye candy for home-design buffs. From plush bath linens and decorative hardware to furniture for your indoor and outdoor spaces, you’ll find it all here. 3. 503 Found Its name says it all. The showroom is filled with an eclectic array of modern and vintage furnishings—artwork for your walls, tables of all shapes and sizes, rugs and cozy throws, cool chairs, and unique table lamps and chandeliers. 4. Pirch The faucets all flow with water, and the appliances all are waiting to be turned to the “on” position. That’s because the team here wants you to be able to try before you buy. And what might that be? You’ll find everything from washers and dryers to ranges and refrigerators to faucets and tubs—all from only the top brands in the business. 5. Tuvalu Home Founded in Laguna Beach in 2003, this is a store that understands the design sensibilities of coastal dwellers. You’ll find a breezy beach-inspired collection of home elements, including lighting and accessories, fun things for the bath, and furniture fitted with eye-catching fabrics from brands like Illume, Arteriors, Currey & Co. and Arte Italica.

Library Book
If there were ever a tome to be studied and admired cover to cover, The Impossible Collection of Design ($695, Assouline, South Coast Plaza) is it. This hand-bound beauty takes you on a journey through 100 years of creativity. Art nouveau. Arts and crafts. Art deco. Pop art. The 172-page book explores innovation through a multitude of forms, materials and techniques. It’s a design aficionado’s collector’s item, full of 100 images hand-picked by Frédéric Chambre from the Calmels-Chambre-Cohen auction house. 

The Architect
He may still be in his mid-30s and has only been in business for five years, but Chris Brandon is making his mark as a sought-after Southern California architect. As the master planner of his O.C.-based firm, Brandon Architects, his stunning, often sustainable and green works can be seen in neighborhoods throughout the region’s central coast—from Bay Shores in Newport Beach to Shore Cliffs in Corona del Mar, where Brandon recently transformed a dated duplex into a modern masterpiece. “I’ve always had a passion for [design],” says Brandon. “I’m always striving to make something unique and better in any way I can.” This year, Brandon will break ground on his biggest project yet—an 11,000-square-foot contemporary redesign in CdM. “What I’m working on now,” he notes, “I feel it’s really cutting-edge.”

Top Five: Favorite Design Experts
1. Jay Bauer

This award-winning architect was commissioned for the redesign of Laguna Beach’s Festival of Arts. A former Disney Imagineer, he’s also the man behind the design of Dana Point’s Ocean Institute. 

2. Kelli Ellis
She’s a sought-after celebrity interior designer who thinks outside the box, and she’ll be debuting new lines this year: “I’ve designed a line of tile for tilebar.com, debuting in Dubai and stateside... in Las Vegas.” 

3. Brion Jeannette
He’s the architect responsible for iconic homes like the Rock House in Laguna. Among his most recent masterpieces: Aerie, a seven-unit luxury condo project on Newport Bay that’s set to break ground this year. 

4. Lisa McDennon
This year, the interior designer is collaborating with architect Greg Abel on the renovation of a house originally designed by his father. Among the spectacular features: large floor-to-ceiling glass expanses.

5. Yota Stavros
Her design aesthetic is as exotic as her name. Now, she’s working on a Huntington Harbour project that mixes midcentury-modern touches with Spanish influences like high ceilings and curved windows.

Living La Vita Lavish
Luxury living has hit a new standard, and it’s an entertainer’s dream. Complete with two—yes, two—kitchens, Brookfield Residential’s La Vita at Orchard Hills (orchard, as in set on an operating avocado orchard) boasts a chef’s prep kitchen with walk-in pantries and an open-concept kitchen equipped with all the ingredients you need to showcase your culinary delights (including a classic retro-style range). “The spotlight is on the chef and guests,” says Mercedes Meserve, Brookfield Residential’s vice president of marketing. Priced at $2 million-plus, the homes (which range from 3,400 to 4,000 square feet) feature four and five bedrooms with bathrooms to match, and opened for sale this past summer. Get them while they’re hot! 

Grand Dame
Posh Orange County living is at its best with the latest William Lyon Signature Homes community. When you buy into The Grand Monarch, you’ll not only own an astounding coastal property, you’ll also gain access to the five-star, five-diamond lifestyle and lavish amenities offered by The St. Regis Monarch Beach, including private beach access, golf and surfing lessons, dining at one of six restaurants and luxe services from Spa Gaucin. This lavish gated community features 37 luxury resort residences (models will debut in the summer) outfitted with ocean and golf course views in select locations, Italian architecture, craftsmanship detail and exquisite interiors. 

BEST OF O.C. | FOOD & NIGHTLIFE

Moulin Over Paris
If you’re looking for a taste of authentic French cuisine, you’re going to want to head to Moulin Bistro, which opened in the fall. “It starts with the product,” says Laurent Vrignaud, the eatery’s Parisian proprietor. “The way we serve it, the way we present it, the way we make it is exactly the same [as] you’d have it anywhere in France.” Everything about this Newport Beach bistro is decidedly French—even many of the waiters and waitresses are French. (And you will not be presented with a bottle of ketchup with your pommes frites.) For Vrignaud, who’s been calling California home since the ’80s, the bistro was an opportunity to bring French culture to the California Riviera. Francophiles and foodies flock to the restaurant for specialties like croque madame, as well Vrignaud’s chicken, which is cooked in an imported rotisserie oven. And, of course, there’s plenty of wine. 

Lounging Around
Hospitality visionary Brent Bolthouse will bring The Bungalow to Surf City this summer. It’s the second oceanfront location for the concept (the first is in Santa Monica), and it will open at Pacific City, a breezy new dining, shopping and entertainment venue on Pacific Coast Highway. “I’m excited to create a unique and special place for Huntington Beach,” he says. With its rustic Baja-style vibe and ocean views, the lounge will feature a unique menu of bites and bevvies. Likely to wash ashore are the restaurant’s signature cocktails, Bitchin’ Sangria and Kick In The Junk.

Readers’ Choice: Favorite Chefs
These five culinary artists consistently please the palates of Orange County’s disciminating diners.

1. Marco Criscuolo He’s making magic every night at what is, perhaps, the region’s most luxurious dining destination—Andrea at The Resort at Pelican Hill. The pastas are handmade each day. The menu is inspired by the flavors of Italy. And the food is impeccably prepared, presenting diners with dishes that delight the senses. 2. David Man As Island Hotel’s executive chef, David Man is responsible for all culinary operations at the resort, and that’s a testament to his culinary prowess. He can take classic dishes and elevate them to a whole new level with subtle twists that are inspired by global fare. 3. Marc Johnson He’s the dashing chef running the kitchen at Island Hotel’s new signature restaurant, Oak Grill, and he’s delighting guests from far and near with his flare for combining his French cooking style with California ingredients and unexpected influences. Case in point: his tandoori-spiced ahi tartare. 4. Vincent Lesage Orange County foodies are quite familiar with this gifted executive chef, who heads culinary operations at Balboa Bay Resort’s new Waterline restaurant. He’s created a modernized Pacific-inspired menu that’s as remarkable as the remake of the restaurant itself. 5. Pascal Lorange He’s creating the dishes that Orange County’s well-heeled crowds are gobbling up at Fashion Island’s Fig & Olive restaurant. But that’s precisely what we’d expect from a chef as talented—and French—as Lorange.

On a Roll
Fashion Island is set to get a Hollywood makeover this year when Sushi Roku rolls into the posh shopping destination. Setting up next to Macy’s, it marks the chain’s sixth location. On the menu will be a mix of the restaurant’s signature Japanese offerings, as well as California-style appetizers and entrees, including the salmon sashimi basil wrap with burrata and red wine yuzu sauce, tuna tartare with yuzu guac, and black truffle tempura. Accompanying its choices of fine fresh fish items: plenty of wine, sake and craft cocktails that are poured, shaken and stirred by expert sommeliers and mixologists. 

On the Rise
This year, Bread Artisan Bakery celebrates its fifth anniversary of bringing gourmet baked goods to O.C. With a head baker who hails from France, the company has made a name for itself among O.C.’s top chefs and luxury resorts, including Pelican Hill, The St. Regis and Disneyland’s newly updated restaurant, Napa Rose. Owner Jonnie LoFranco plans to keep rising. “Everybody is moving toward whole-grain and artisan products,” says LoFranco, who aims to bring her goods to the community in a larger way—by exploring retail opportunities.

Maven of Entertainment
The Grammy Awards may be the nation’s biggest night in music, but here, it’s the OC Music Awards. This marks the 14th year for the always exciting event, which honors the area’s shining stars, and it’s going to make showstopping history with a major change. “We’re shifting the whole season of music to the fall,” says producer Ashley Eckenweiler. While the showcase concert series used to kick off in January, bands won’t have to wait till autumn to get involved. Showcase submissions will be accepted starting in March. “We’re constantly trying to keep the awards fresh, new, exciting and interesting, and this is just a part of our process to grow and expand,” says Eckenweiler. But rest assured, the program will continue to break in new artists. 

Top Five: Favorite Cocktails
1. The Billionaire
A true moneymaker from Babette’s, it’s made with bourbon, lemon, grenadine and absinthe bitters, then finished with a lemon peel and a Luxardo maraschino cherry. It’s perfect for power players. $14

2. Cali-Cooler
Here in the land of endless summer, we hit The Deck’s breezy patio for this libation, with its zing of shishito peppers, mint, lemon and cucumber complementing the star ingredient: Hendrick’s Gin. $12

3. The Detroiter
This 320 Main sip is for beer lovers and Motor City fans. Amaro, apple brandy, lemon juice, honey syrup and Stone IPA are dry shaken, then topped with a pour of Stone and grapefruit twist. $12

4. The Hot Mess
Nostalgists head to Pie Society for its speak-easy vibe and this fiery drink made of cilantro-infused tequila, along with ginger syrup, lime and muddled jalapeno for that extra dash of spice. $10

5. Sweet Smoke
Leave it to Aqua Lounge, the freshest new lounge in Newport, to stir things up with a sophisticated libation like this one, with its layered blend of honey syrup, lemon juice, bitters, dry vermouth and Scotch whisky. $14