Tag Archives: Event Santa Cruz

Casablanca Inn bazaar with food, drinks, art — plus benefit for Sonoma fire victims

Gordo Gustavos at Event Santa Cruz’s “Big Westside Block Party” in June (Photo credit Yvonne Rew-Falk)

Event Santa Cruz is hosting “Bazaar at the Casablanca Inn” this Friday night, Oct. 20, from 5:30-8:30 p.m.

The all-ages event is at 101 Main St. in Santa Cruz. Admission is $1 at the door. Guests are encouraged to register at eventsantacruz.com.

Attendees can enjoy cocktails, craft beer from area breweries, local food, art, crafts, and more. Venus Sprits will be serving Moroccan Nights, a cocktail crafted just for this event.

Featured vendors include:
– Chuy Santa Cruz
– Coco Virostko (artist)
– Flora and Fauna
– Gordo Gustavos
– H&H Fresh Fish Company
– Lion and Lamb Studios
– NotPie Cakery
– Peak Original
– Sleight of Hand Pizza
– Upcycled Skate Art
– Venus Spirits
– Verdant California
– Wetfeet Photography
Guests will have a chance to check out ESC’s first-ever car show: the “Event Santa Cruz’in.” Mobile businesses and unique rides are going to be featured, including:

– Brew Cruz’s “Slowboy”
– Ya Doggie
– Gordo Gustavos new food truck
– Tepui Tents
– Sandbar Solar & Electric

In addition, ESC is teaming up with Yoso Wellness Spa and Santa Cruz Socialites to “Gather for Sonoma.” Attendees are encouraged to bring items or dollars to donate in support of those impacted by the recent wildfires in Sonoma County. Blankets, sheets, personal hygiene items, new and lightly used clothing, new socks and underwear, diapers, baby bottles, and gift cards to stores like Safeway and Target will be appreciated and delivered. One hundred percent of the items and money will be provided to victims, evacuees and first responders.

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Cornucopia of collaborations at Event Santa Cruz Paradox party

From Awe Shucks Oysters, a “new raw, dressed style called tomato relish” available at the July 21 event (Photo courtesy of Awe Shucks Facebook page)

Event Santa Cruz is hosting “ Collaboration on the Lot” this Friday night at Hotel Paradox’s front parking lot (611 Ocean St.), where several collaborations by local businesses can be viewed and consumed. These products include “Bombshell Oysters” (Awe Shucks Oysters teaming up with MJA Vineyards); a cherry bomb ice cream float (Marianne’s Ice Cream and NuBo); and a signature Event Santa Cruz cocktail (Hotel Paradox’s Solaire Restaurant & Bar is creating this by partnering with local Venus Spirits).


Admission to the 5:30-9pm event is free but attendees need to pre-register at collabonthelot.eventbrite.com. There will be lots of food and drinks to purchase and to sample. Note there is no parking in the Paradox parking lot. They’re asking people to park in the County Bldg. lot after 5pm. There will also be a valet parking option at the hotel ($15) at the entrance on Ocean St.


Featured vendors include:
Awe Shucks Oysters in collaboration with MJA Vineyards
Drunk Monkeys Food Truck
Flora and Fauna
Friends In Cheeses Jam Company
Gordo Gustavo’s BBQ in partnership with Humble Sea Brewing Co.
In the Redwoods collaborating with Yarn Shop Santa Cruz
Kinderwood Farms
Marianne’s Ice Cream produced with New Bohemia Brewing Co.
Monterey Bay Murals in partnership with The Ville
Mountainside Jewelry
Solaire Restaurant + Bar in partnership with Venus Spirits
This Tiny Ocean collaborating with Davenport Sea Glass

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NEXTies honor Santa Cruz businesses and individuals

The 2017 NEXTies will be awarded March 24

The 2017 NEXTies will be awarded March 24. Photo credit: Event Santa Cruz

The 2017 NEXTies event will include people from Santa Cruz’s food, coffee, art and music communities. The NEXTies, which celebrate “the area’s brightest doers,” are in their eighth year. For the annual awards ceremony, held this Friday, March 24, event organizer Matthew Swinnerton invites the public to “pull out the pearls and cufflinks and join us for an evening in honor of those in Santa Cruz County who inspire us to reach further and higher and inspire the community.” Danielle Crook and DNA are hosting the program.


New award categories this year include “Best Writer.” The inaugural recipient is Good Times food writer Lily Stoicheff, who is honored to receive this accolade.


“As a journalist who writes about food culture in Santa Cruz County, I’m drawn to the stories of people who are fearlessly passionate about enriching our community through what we eat, be it a chef, farmer, small business owner or brewer,” says Stoicheff. “I gravitate towards writing about food because it’s something we all share, and as such it holds the possibility of creating a path to understanding and connection with each other and our environment. Plus, eating is an opportunity to bring joy into our lives daily.” Being acknowledged by the NEXTies, she says, shows that the Santa Cruz community values this type of storytelling.


Cat & Cloud Coffee is receiving the 2017 NEXTie for “New Business of the Year.” Owners Chris Baca, Jared Truby, and Charles Jack were thrilled to hear the news.


“We opened this business because we love community, and we wanted Cat & Cloud to be a hub for the community. We live in the neighborhood, and its awesome to see the community recognize us and really participate in the vision we have for Cat & Cloud.”


Vendors from the Santa Cruz Food Lounge’s monthly “Night Market” (held the second Friday of each month) will be selling food at the NEXTies. Vendors include My Mom’s Mole (mole nachos in chicken, veggie, and combination options), TanglewoodArtisan Hand Food (with hand pies including meat and veggie options), Hanloh, and La Sofrita (empanadas and mango-cucumber salad). I personally recommend every single one of these fabulous food businesses! Andrea Mollenauer, Cat Hernandez and Sally Kane operate the Santa Cruz Food Lounge, located at 1001 Center St. in downtown Santa Cruz. Mollenauer actually won a NEXTie in 2015.


At the event, there will be music from 2017 NEXTie award winners The Coffis Brothers and Taylor Rae. McCoy Tyler will also perform. Beer from New Bohemia Brewing Co will be available for purchase.


The full 2017 NEXTies winners list:

Entrepreneur of the year: Sindy Hernandez de Cornejo
Musician of the year: Taylor Rae
Band of the year: The Coffis Brothers
Artist of the year: Irene O’Connell
Writer of the year: Lily Stoicheff
Give Back person of the year: Mariah Tanner & Natalie Anne Oliver
Foodie of the year: Elizabeth Birnbaum
New Business of the year: Cat & Cloud Coffee
Athlete of the year: Ryan Navaroli
Under 18 person of the year: Ashley Solis-Pavon: Community Agroecology Network
Non-Profit of the year: Warming Project
Mentor of the year: Keisha Frost
Innovative Business of the Year: Inboard
Innovator of the year: Nick Halmos from Cityblooms
TECHie of the year: Gabriel Jesse Medina (From Digital NEST)
Green Business of the year: Khordz Handmade Mugs
Wildcard: Happily Ever Laughter


Buy tickets for $30 online.


The NEXTies were first awarded in 2010. Four years later, Santa Cruz Next asked Matthew Swinnerton of Event Santa Cruz to take over the NEXTies. Swinnerton launched the organization Event Santa Cruz in 2013 to help tell the stories of local businesses and the people that make these businesses run. The organization presents monthly happenings around town.


In an effort to reduce waste, Event Santa Cruz has partnered with ReCRUZ for the NEXTies. Guests are encouraged to bring their own mug or “rent” one from ReCRUZ for free during the event.



Friday March 24, 2017, 6:30-9 p.m.

Rio Theatre, 1205 Soquel Ave., Santa Cruz



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Trio of events at Santa Cruz’s Assembly and POPUP this weekend

Puerto Rican food by La Sofrita, Photo credit: La Sofrita Facebook page

Puerto Rican food by La Sofrita. Photo credit: La Sofrita Facebook page

There are many events, including some food-related ones, occurring this weekend in the Santa Cruz area. Here are details for three events in Santa Cruz at POPUP and Assembly (all at 1108 Pacific Ave.).


Friday night: My Mom’s Mole at POPUP

To celebrate National Tortilla Chip Day, My Mom’s Mole is hosting dinner at POPUP from 5:30-9:30 p.m. (or earlier if the food sells out). There will be mole nachos (chicken and veggie options) made with My Mom’s Mole homemade tortilla chips and a new mole queso sauce.


Saturday: La Sofrita at POPUP

La Sofrita will be at POPUP beginning at 5:30 p.m. The Puerto Rican Pop Up menu will feature dishes including empanadas with vegetarian options, Puerto Rican achiote rice and stewed pink beans, and garlic mojo chicken (made with organic thighs). “And, back by popular demand, shrimp a la criolla,” said chef Anna. The shrimp is simmered in a tomato-white wine broth, with sofrito and manzanilla-stuffed olives, and served atop Puerto Rican rice. “We’ll also have yuca fries served with garlic-olive oil dip,” she added. “You think you like French fries? Wait til you try these!” This pop-up doubles as the pre-party for the Santa Cruz Warriors vs. Windy City Bulls game at Kaiser Permanente Arena, but everyone is welcome, whether or not they are attending that game. A percentage of the proceeds will benefit the development of the Scotts Valley Sports Complex.


Sunday: Oscars Viewing Party at Assembly

Event Santa Cruz is hosting its second annual gala event—complete with red carpet—to celebrate the Oscars beginning at 5 p.m. at Assembly. People are encouraged to dress in black tie. Tickets are $35 and include several savory and sweet bites throughout the evening and a glass of champagne upon arrival (additional drinks can be purchased at the new Assembly cocktail bar). There will be a large screen to watch the Oscars, and a separate, “no-talking room” for serious fans. All attendees will be entered in a drawing for Santa Cruz Warriors tickets. Purchase tickets or get more information online at eventsantacruz.com.

All events are at POPUP and/or Assembly, 1108 Pacific Ave.

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Event Watsonville hosts enticing evening with local entrepreneurs, food and beer

Katie Raquel from fresh, organic juice business Katie's Coldpress is part of Event Watsonville’s Entrepreneurs Taking their Businesses to New Heights

Katie Raquel from Katie’s Coldpress is part of Event Watsonville’s Entrepreneurs Taking their Businesses to New Heights

Event Watsonville presents “Entrepreneurs Taking their Businesses to New Heights” at 6 p.m. Wednesday, Aug. 24, and there will be a few food/drink/farm-related speakers in the mix plus delicious food and drink for sale. Representatives from different local businesses will talk about how they started their business and what drives them to do what they do.


This is the second “Event Watsonville” evening; the first was in February. Matthew Swinnerton, who founded the popular Event Santa Cruz series a few years ago, decided to expand to South County to showcase even more of our local community.


“I am super excited to come back to Watsonville,” says Swinnerton. “It’s been far too long since we did the last one back in February and I definitely won’t let that happen again. I love the energy and excitement coming out of the Watsonville entrepreneur community. Events like this really show that off.”


As always, the evening begins with time to mingle and buy food and beverages starting at 6 p.m. Selections for sale will include tacos from My Mom’s Mole and beer from Elkhorn Slough Brewing Co. In addition, food samples will be available from a variety of area vendors.


The setting is Specialized Helicopters in Watsonville. There will also be helicopter rides available for purchase.

Tickets are $10 and can be purchased online.

Speakers begin at about 7, after the hour of mingling is over. Katie Raquel from fresh, organic juice business Katie’s Coldpress says she is participating as a presenter because she has found these types of events to be “a huge source of inspiration. It’s a total joy hearing from other entrepreneurs and connecting deeper with the community.”

Katie’s Coldpress is family-owned and operated. “We infuse every part of the business with love and attention,” shares Raquel. “I started KCP two years ago out of a desire to make the highest quality raw juice more accessible to people with busy lives—all of us, right?!—and to make products that are truly delicious, with a focus on excellent and personal customer service.” Her business is committed to staying 100% plant-based, and it’s in the process of being CCOF certified organic, after two years of being certified organic through the state of California.

Jessica Ridgeway from Farm Discovery at Live Earth is also a speaker. She’s excited to speak about the farm-based nonprofit she co-founded a few years ago, which works to empower youth and families to build and sustain healthy food, farming, social and natural systems. Farm Discovery offers “educational programs that inspire youth and families to transform their relationship to food, farming and nature.” She adds, “We steward our working farm and its wild spaces as an environmentally and economically viable piece of the food system and a learning space.”

She says it’s a perfect time to share the vision and programs with community members who may not be aware of the nonprofit. “Farm Discovery is reaching a new level or organizational maturity,” says Ridgeway. “We are in a place where we now have the capacity to actively create new partnerships in our local community. Participating in events like this helps Farm Discovery to build important relationships with other local businesses, individuals, and organizations in order to transform personal and community health and improve our impact on earth by building and sustaining collaborative agricultural, ecological and social systems.”

Other participants, in alphabetical order:



Wednesday, Aug. 24, 2016: 6 p.m. doors open/food & drinks begin, 7 p.m. speakers begin

Cost: $10

Location: Specialized Helicopters, 150 Aviation Way, Watsonville


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Lots of local food & drinks at Event Santa Cruz community party

Bridgette Quartararo from SparQle Cloud spins cotton candy

Bridgette Quartararo from SparQle Cloud spins cotton candy

Event Santa Cruz is partnering with Visit Santa Cruz County for “This is How We Cruz” on Wednesday, June 8 from 6 to 8:30 p.m. The event, which will include lots of local food and drinks, will be at the Rio Theatre (1205 Soquel Ave) and is highlighting some of our area’s local people, places, projects and businesses.

Scheduled presenters are from a variety of industries and will focus on the county’s local beer, food and sports scenes. There will be a mix of food and drinks to purchase and to sample. Tickets are $10 and going fast; purchase online. During the first hour, people can mingle and enjoy refreshments, and speakers begin at 7.

Event participants include the following (some of these are presenters; others are vendors):
• Bubb Rader, Berdels
• Annie Pautsch, Brew Cruz
• Coffee Zombie Collective, band
• Mayor Cynthia Mathews, City of Santa Cruz
• Jacob Martinez, Digital NEST
• Zach Davis, The Glass Jar Company
• Frank Scott Krueger, Humble Sea Brewing Company
• Ryan Evans, Inboard
• Jackly Paulette, musician
• Cesario Ruiz, My Mom’s Mole
• Dan Satterthwaite, New Bohemia Brewing Company
• Becky Potter, Pure Heart Chocolate
• The Santa Cruz Derby Girls
• Casey Hill, Santa Cruz Warriors
• Bridgette Quartararo, SparQle Cloud
• David Dennis and Martijn Stiphout, Ventana Surfboards & Supplies
• Maggie Ivy, Visit Santa Cruz County
• The True Olive Connection
• Chris Baca, Jared Truby and Charles Jack of Cat & Cloud

I spoke to Becky Potter, Pure Heart Chocolate founder, about her involvement with the event. “I am excited to be part of the vibrant food/artisan culture that is happening here in Santa Cruz, and I think Wednesday night is going to be an awesome example of this,” she shared. “People can expect to see some of their favorite local entrepreneurs, and also have the opportunity to discover newer small businesses, like mine.” Potter will be giving away free samples of raw vegan chocolate and selling boxes of her delicious treats.

Another highlight? Event organizers announced that attendees will be the first to experience Visit Santa Cruz County’s new video series that profiles “a few dynamic businesses and the people behind them.”

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Santa Cruz food truck roundup & panel discussion from Event Santa Cruz

Aunt LaLi & Ate3One food trucks at a past Food Trucks A Go Go event

Aunt LaLi & Ate3One food trucks at a past Food Trucks A Go Go event

Event Santa Cruz is partnering with Food Trucks A Go Go to present The Food Truck RoundUp, which aims to highlight the area’s local food scene and will offer a short panel dialogue featuring a few of Santa Cruz’s event producers. The event will be held on Friday, April 29 at 5 p.m. at The Delaware Addition (2120 Delaware Ave).

Admission is free for kids and $3 for adults. Food from some of the area’s popular local vendors and craft beer from Humble Sea Brewery will be available for purchase. The food vendors are offering “small plate” menus so that guests can sample lots of different items; see below for highlights.

Event Santa Cruz’s Matthew Swinnerton will moderate a short panel discussion at 6:45 p.m. Panelists include David Dennis (Ventana Surfboards & Supplies), Doug Erickson (Santa Cruz New Tech Meetup), Sally Kane (Santa Cruz Food Lounge), Monica Karst (Santa Cruz Socialites) and LaLi Kates (Food Trucks A Go Go).

Food vendors & menu highlights

Ate3One, Santa Cruz & Monterey County – A truck with delicious “modern street food” by a husband and wife team. Friday’s food will include:

  • Mini Poke “Nachos”
  • Mini Naughty Fries (I’m not sure if they’re the same every time, but last fall I had this at a Food Trucks A Go Go event and it included bacon, garlic confit, Parmesan and cheddar cheese, sour cream, house aioli and scallions)
  • “CBC-P” Corralitos Brewing Co. draft beer-braised Pork Sando
  • Bavarian Cream Stuffed Churro

Aunt Lali’s Mobile Cafe, Scotts Valley – A fabulous ice cream truck. Friday’s food will include:

  • organic espresso drinks
  • affogatos
  • scooped ice cream
  • your fave ice cream truck treats
  • ‘Nawlins-style organic iced coffee
  • made-to-order ice cream sandwiches

Tacos Las Varas Nayarit, Watsonville – It’s been described as a “gigantic taco truck” and I haven’t had the opportunity to try their food yet. Friday’s food will include:

  • tacos
  • tortas
  • quesadillas
  • plates with rice, beans, salad
  • meat choices: asada, pastor, carnitas, pollo, chile verde & birria

Kickin Chicken, Santa Cruz – This local business first got famous for their scrumptious fried chicken and waffles. Friday’s food will include:

  • Fried chicken sandwiches
  • Strawberry snap pea salad
  • Succotash

Event Santa Cruz produces monthly events that showcase thriving local businesses and the people behind them.

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Eat Drink Santa Cruz and women entrepreneurs at Event Santa Cruz

Crispy Brussels, miso, Vermont maple, sesame at East End Gastropub as photographed by Eat Drink Santa Cruz

Crispy Brussels, miso, Vermont maple, sesame at East End Gastropub as photographed by Eat Drink Santa Cruz

Event Santa Cruz presents “The Santa Cruz View” on Thursday, March 24, and Eat Drink Santa Cruz founder Lia Adams is one of several local women participating. She’s actually in a dual role: co-host and interviewee.

For the first time, ESC is putting together an event in a talk show format instead of its usual TED Talk/quick-speech-type format.

ESC marketing coordinator Jill Stone is co-hosting the dialogue, and there will be seven female entrepreneurs in addition to Adams talking about their experience as businesspeople.

Starting at 6 p.m. there will be drinks available including craft beer, plus food including organic artisan cheeses with Companion breads, house-made jams and honeycomb by Savory Events. The dialogue will start at 7 p.m.

The setting is The Barre Studio at 2001 40th Ave. Suite C in Capitola.  Because of the bamboo flooring, attendees are asked to wear shoes other than heels.

Tickets are $10 and can be purchased online. There are also a limited number of annual passes available for $75. This grants pass-holders admission to 12 consecutive months of events.

Adams is excited to participate in this Thursday’s event because of “…the group of brilliant and talented women. I can’t wait to hear their stories and share a few of mine,” says Adams. “We live in a very supportive community and I am honored to be in the line-up.”

Adams started Eat Drink Santa Cruz in 2012. She had just moved back to Santa Cruz after living in Nashville for a year. “The food scene there was incredible, something I felt was lacking in Santa Cruz,” she says. “Then places like Discretion Brewing, Beer Thirty, Cantine Winepub, and West End Tap came along, and things changed. Santa Cruz began to stake a claim on the foodie map, attracting craft beer lovers and artisan food enthusiasts from near and far.”

Her dream for EDSC is that it becomes a one-stop-shop for locals when deciding on a place to “sip and nibble,” as well as a place for tourists to find out where to go and what to eat when visiting Santa Cruz. Matthew Swinnerton—leader/founder of Event Santa Cruz itself—is also a participant in EDSC. They plan to host their first EDSC event in the early summer.

Meanwhile, Adams’ favorite part of operating EDSC is engaging with the community while supporting her fellow foodie entrepreneurs. She currently has Instagram and Facebook accounts, with a web site coming in the future. “I love it when I post a shout out to a business and conversation starts in the comments. Also, I really love visiting places, taking pictures, and eating and drinking, of course!”

Other participants, in alphabetical order:
Sonja BrunnerDJ Sparkle
Ashley CramerThe Barre Studio
Teresa DeckerSanta Cruz Entrepreneur
Maya DelanoNextSpace Santa Cruz
Trudie RansomSUP Shack Santa Cruz
Noelle WeatherwaxConcrete Rose Salon
Sonia ZjawinskiHome/Work

Event Santa Cruz hosts monthly events showcasing local businesses and individuals; it launched Event Watsonville last month.

Thursday, March 24, 2016
6 p.m. doors open
7 p.m. speakers begin

Location: The Barre Studio, 2001 40th Ave. Suite C, Capitola

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Event Santa Cruz hosts PopUp Santa Cruz Night

Food by Lionfish Supper Club, a participant at Event Santa Cruz: PopUp

Food by Lionfish Supper Club, a participant at Event Santa Cruz: PopUp

Matthew Swinnerton has done it again: he started Event Santa Cruz in September 2013 to tell stories about local businesses and the people behind them, and he’s been bringing our community fantastic monthly events—always sell-outs—ever since. The next one, “PopUp Santa Cruz Night,” is June 25 with eight speakers. Warning to all you foodies out there: tickets are almost gone.

The setting is An Epicurious Lifestyle, owned by Adrienne Megora and Marci Prolo—themselves speakers in last November’s ‘Edible Santa Cruz’ program from Event Santa Cruz. As Swinnerton has announced on the eventsantacruz.com site, Megora and Prolo are welcoming attendees into their kitchen “to sample delicious PopUps from all over Santa Cruz” before listening to the speakers, who are all part of the burgeoning Santa Cruz PopUp movement.

Scheduled speakers, in alphabetical order:

  • Matthew Armstrong – Mutari Chocolate
  • Elizabeth Birnbaum – Slow Food Santa Cruz
  • Austin Kaye – Back Porch
  • Charles Lambert – Ocean2Table
  • Zachary Mazi – Lionfish Supper Club
  • Noah Kopito – Mortal Dumpling
  • Ty Pearce – Ty’s Eatery
  • Justin Williams – Kickin Chicken

Lionfish’s Zachary Mazi recently came across some intriguing statistics from Eventbrite: “In 2014, PopUp dining events enjoyed the largest growth of any type of ticketed event, with an 82% increase in attendance and sales,” Mazi shares. “Following closely on the heels and coming in second on growth was Communal Dining events, at around 64% growth.” One reason Mazi cites for his excitement about participating in Event Santa Cruz: PopUp: “…we are riding a national wave of the changing face of dining, and it feels like Santa Cruz really has a lead on this particular growing industry.”

Mazi likes being able to have a dialogue with the local foodie community. “Foodies should know that connecting back to the source of our food is the most important step anyone can take in their eating habits,” he says. “For me, that includes growing your own food, foraging, understanding your local food history and your current agricultural surroundings.  LionFish strives to bring these factors to full attention with every meal we craft.”

Ty Pearce is very enthusiastic about the June 25 event. “It brings exposure to a lot of great PopUps, and gives each of us the opportunity to explain why we are going on this journey in the PopUp world.” I met Pearce a few weeks ago when I ate his delicious food at the weekly Wednesday night Food Lounge PopUp, and it’s obvious how much care goes into his creations. “I take the time to source organic wholesome ingredients that make delicious comfort food that is sold at a fair price,” he says. “My menu can be completely customized to each individual’s lifestyle needs.”

Speaker Justin Williams, chef and co-owner of Kickin Chicken, is looking forward to the event. “This is a great opportunity to talk about how late-night food doesn’t have to be subpar,” says Williams. “We strive to deliver the undeliverable!”

Back Porch owner/chef Austin Kaye is honored that he was included in this program. “I enjoy being part of an event that explores the pop-up scene in Santa Cruz, with an emphasis on community and collaboration, rather than competition,” shares Kaye. “I can’t wait to talk about something that I care so much about!” Back Porch has just acquired a food trailer, and on the evening of June 25 Kaye will be revealing its menu and its late summer locations.

Matthew Armstrong, Mutari Chocolate co-founder, also looks forward to speaking to local food fans June 25. “The way we make and deliver our chocolate has always been something exciting to speak about,” says Armstrong. “We are doing something both new and traditional, that also carries my own personal adventure. Armstrong is very excited to hear from “others in the community who have their own stories of inspiration.”

Slow Food Santa Cruz Board Chair Elizabeth Birnbaum is thrilled to be included in Event Santa Cruz’s PopUp Night. “I am the only woman in the speaker line-up, and the only non-chef/food producer. I am also the only non-business-owner of the group, but I am always creating food-based projects and am presently working to build a business.” Birnbaum has collaborated with some of the other speakers—including Mutari, LionFish, and Mortal Dumpling. “They are all awesome and I am inspired by working with them!”

“Being the only non-chef, I have an interesting opportunity to cross over between the chefs and food producers, and help support them all by creating events,” Birnbaum adds. “I consider myself an event producer and community organizer. I especially love creating space for food literacy education. I have been able to do this for work and for fun, which is really incredible.”

Tickets are only $15; purchase tickets online at eventsantacruz.com. There are only 38 tickets left as of Sunday morning, June 14.  There are also a limited number of “annual passes” available for $75. This grants pass-holders admission to 12 consecutive months of events, through June 2016.

For more information call 831-332-8677. Ian Janco is the evening’s musical guest.


Thursday, June 25, 2015
6 p.m. doors open, and food will be served from most of the speakers
7 p.m. speakers begin

Location: An Epicurious Lifestyle, 104 Bronson St. Suite 13, Santa Cruz

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Chef Andrea Mollenauer wins award and caters 2015 NEXTies

Andrea Mollenauer’s signature rosemary polenta cake with onion jam and prosciutto

Andrea Mollenauer’s signature rosemary polenta cake with onion jam and prosciutto

Imagine one venue that has limitless potential for Santa Cruz community members: you can drink gourmet hot chocolate anytime, eat savory dumplings there on one night, fried chicken another night, and be enticed by many other popup brunch or dinner options. You can throw a private party, host an event for your business, and more. Well, Andrea Mollenauer has brought that vision to life at the Food Lounge, simultaneously serving a community of customers while providing a unique space for local food and beverage entrepreneurs to showcase their creations. And on Friday, May 15, she’s receiving a 2015 NEXTies award for this creativity, innovation, and drive.

“The level of excitement and giddiness I feel for the work I do everyday is hands down what gets me up in the morning and what keeps me at work late most long days,” says Mollenauer. “I do it for the look I see on people’s faces when they experience a dinner or event. I do it for the collaborations I see between chefs in my kitchen. I do it for the breakthroughs I see my young students having in the kitchen and in their lives around food and careers” (Mollenauer teaches the ROP culinary arts program for local high school students). “To have that be noticed in the community and recognized with this award blows me away. It makes me want to do more!”

Mollenauer is also owner of Lifestyle Culinary Arts, which is catering the NEXTies this year. The menu will include her signature rosemary polenta cake with onion jam and prosciutto.

“I catered last year and was asked months ago to cater again,” says Mollenauer. In late April, she found out she was being awarded a NEXTie. Mollenauer was given the chance to back out of the catering obligation. “They asked if I still wanted to cater and I said YES! What better opportunity than to be able to feed the people who are attending, who are interested in the community and celebrating the winners,” Mollenauer says. “I get to thank them with my food and my service, a true embodiment of my passion as a caterer and community-focused food entrepreneur.”

More on the Food Lounge: Located at 1001 Center St. in downtown Santa Cruz, Mollenauer operates the business with partners Cat Hernandez and Sally Kane. When asked to talk about the Food Lounge, Mollenauer’s face lights up; her enthusiasm is palpable: “I see so many conversations and collaborations being forged and resources being shared by chefs utilizing the incubator kitchen. They are helping out at each other’s dinner services, coming to dine at each other’s popups, because they know that’s where the good food is!” Many guests are excited to have a new, vibrant place to come repeatedly for different food on different nights. In early May, one couple even came to six different events in one week.

There are currently nine Food Lounge tenants: Mortal Dumpling, Ty’s Eatery, Kickin’ Chicken, Fogline Farm, Ocean2table, Mutari Hot Chocolate, Lionfish SupperClub, Cardamom Tuesday, and La Marea.

The Food Lounge’s official description? It’s an “innovative community-minded event venue, commercial incubator kitchen, and full-service food hub aimed at fueling, educating, and inspiring Santa Cruz.” Visit scfoodlounge.com to sign up for the email list and/or stay up to date at facebook.com/scfoodlounge.

The full 2015 NEXTies winners list:
Andrea Mollenauer
Martijn Stiphout (Ventana Surfboards co-founder)
Monica Karst (Santa Cruz Socialites)
Paul De Worken (Monterey Bay Murals)
Coffee Zombie Collective (musicians)
Courtney Lashkewitsch, 18 and under category (started her own business at age 18)

Buy tickets for $40 online.

The evening will include the world premiere of James Durbin’s new music video “Santa Cruz.”

As proclaimed on the 2015 NEXTies site, the contributions made by Santa Cruz’s talented, entrepreneurial, and civically minded community are a reason that Santa Cruz is a world-renowned locale. The NEXTies “recognize those who create, build and inspire.” One of the other 2015 winners, Monica Karst, is the founder of Santa Cruz Socialites. This group, as stated on santacruzsocialites.com, is about “Celebrating and promoting women across Santa Cruz County. Nourishing friendships, empowering each other and having FUN along the way.” One goal is to “spark bonds between women who are unlikely to know each other and plant the seed of community.” The Socialites were actually the first group to hold an event at the Food Lounge, back in late January before the Lounge was officially open.

The NEXTies were first awarded in 2010. Four years later, Santa Cruz Next asked Matthew Swinnerton of Event Santa Cruz to take over the NEXTies. As Swinnerton recently told writer Molly Lautamo for an article on the history of the NEXTies, he immediately knew he wanted to bring “…local youth into the conversation. He didn’t want the event to just be a place for those already established in their professions. He wanted to welcome the younger generation — those wonderfully idealistic youth who are still actively searching for their calling in life—to be a part of the event as both attendees and honorees.”

Swinnerton started the wonderful, collaborative series Event Santa Cruz in 2013 to help tell the stories of local businesses and the hard-working people that make these businesses run. I really enjoyed the two Event Santa Cruz evenings I attended (one in 2013 and one in 2014) and I’m excited to see his fresh take on the NEXTies. This vision is already present on social media. Recently Event Santa Cruz and The NEXTies asked a few individuals “What inspires you?” and posted these on Event Santa Cruz’s Facebook page.

A few answers:
“The curious” (Monica Karst)
“Innovation” (Courtney Lashkewitsch)
“Trees” (Cliff Hodges: Adventure Out founder, past NEXTies winner)
“My community” (Tyler Fox, Santa Cruz Waves founder, past NEXTies winner)
“Risk takers” (Analicia Cube of Take Back Santa Cruz!)
“Waking up and seeing the top of grass and not bottom of grass”(Richard Novak of NHS, Inc.)

See you at the NEXTies!

Follow me on Twitter @santacruzfoodie.

Friday May 15, 2015– 7 p.m. refreshments, 8 p.m. program

Rio Theatre, 1205 Soquel Ave., Santa Cruz