Category Archives: Culinary

  • Thursday, March 25, 2021 (11:08 am)

    Dates announced for 2021 OC Fair!

    Today the OC Fair announced dates for the much-anticipated annual event – July 16- Aug. 15. The theme is “Time for Fun,” celebrating the joy of the return of Southern California’s favorite summer festival.

    “We are grateful to plan for an exciting, and safe, OC Fair this year,” said OC Fair Board Chair Natalie Rubalcava-Garcia. “This milestone will allow the community to come together to celebrate the future and generate much-needed opportunities for economic development and growth in Orange County. The Board and staff have done a fantastic job of responsibly managing our finances and preparing to meet safe reopening guidelines to not just make it through the pandemic, but to emerge resilient and ready for 2021 and beyond.”

    OC Fair officials have been working closely with public health agencies to develop protocols to keep fairgoers safe while bringing back carnival rides, fair food, entertainment, competitions, animals and more to fair fans. The plans for the 2021 OC Fair are based on health agency projections for the summer, but could change if warranted by public health conditions.

    Advance ticket sales will be required and limited capacity will give fairgoers more elbow room. The number of concessions, rides and shopping vendors will be reduced and spaced out to provide more distance between each. Admission tickets will go on sale May 1 on

    “We have worked through many different scenarios for the 2021 OC Fair and we are so excited to move forward with this plan because it means that we really can bring back the fun, and that’s why I love this year’s theme,” said Michele Richards, OC Fair & Event Center CEO. “We want everyone to continue to follow health guidelines and get vaccinated so we can finally celebrate summer together again.”

    The Fair Board voted to keep ticket prices at the 2019 OC Fair rates, $12 general admission and $7 for children and seniors on weekdays (Wednesday, Thursday), and $14 general admission and $7 for children and seniors on weekends (Friday, Saturday and Sunday). The current plan is for the fair to be closed on Mondays and Tuesdays, as it traditionally has been. There is a change to move Friday into weekend pricing and OC Fair will absorb the online ticket sale fees.

    Announcements regarding concerts in Pacific Amphitheatre and The Hangar will be coming soon.


  • Sunday, July 26, 2020 (11:00 am)

    How to make garden-fresh pesto

    Our friend Pam, the culinary arts supervisor, has another recipe for us today: garden pesto! We thought this would be a good, easy recipe for a yummy Sunday dinner.

    What you need: basil, parmesan cheese, pine nuts, olive oil, sea salt, garlic 

    For a delicious and easy banana dessert recipe from Pam, go to and click on Food & Drink.

  • Monday, April 27, 2020 (9:52 am)

    OC Fair Board cancels 2020 Fair due to pandemic

    The OC Fair & Event Center Board of Directors voted unanimously today to cancel the 2020 OC Fair, one of the most anticipated and enduring summer celebrations in Southern California for 130 years. The Board considered ongoing guidance and updated information from State and County health care and government officials about the status of the coronavirus pandemic and the improbability that mass gatherings like the OC Fair could safely and responsibly take place this summer.

    In addition to the regularly scheduled monthly meeting, the Board called a second April meeting specifically to review all options and discuss whether or not to move forward with the 2020 OC Fair. The action comes amid unprecedented community stay-at-home and social distancing orders and will protect guests, vendors and staff during the COVID-19 crisis.

    “The decision to cancel the 2020 OC Fair was not taken lightly by the Board. As Governor-appointed representatives the Board has a responsibility to provide a safe experience to the community-at-large, the hundreds of people who depend on county fairs for their livelihood, fairgoers and OC Fair staff,” said Board Chair Sandra Cervantes. “While many of our guests have expressed extreme disappointment over the idea of the 2020 Fair being canceled, we strongly believe it is the right thing to do in this current situation. However, we will keep the spirit of the OC Fair alive with virtual fair concepts such as contests, competitions, entertainment and concessions to bring the fair experience to guests through and social media.”

    The 23-day OC Fair welcomes more than 1.3 million fairgoers each year and has an estimated economic impact of $350 million annually. The Fair was canceled 1942-1947 during wartime, but otherwise has been a summer staple since 1890. Information on refunds for concert tickets and Super Passes that have already been purchased can be found at

    “We love the OC Fair as much as our guests do. And, while it’s disappointing that the Fair can’t take place this year, we fully support the Board’s decision,” said Michele Richards, OC Fair & Event Center CEO. “But please know OC Fair & Event Center will still be here to serve the community as we plan for the next OC Fair and the eventual return of our wonderful events.”

  • Tuesday, April 7, 2020 (12:40 pm)

    Homebrew and Wine Competitions canceled

    We are sad to announce the cancellation of our Homebrew and Wine Competitions slated to be part of the 2020 OC Fair. These competitions are important to our program and we look forward to their return in 2021.

    For further information about the Commercial Wine and Home Wine Competitions, see a note from OC Wine Society’s president Bill Redding.

    At this time, we will continue to plan for the annual Fair and accept entries for other competitions.

  • Thursday, March 12, 2020 (7:16 pm)

    OC Fair & Event Center closes property until further notice

    (Updated June 11, 202o) 

    Out of an abundance of caution and to help stem the spread of coronavirus, OC Fair & Event Center announces a full public closure of the facilities, including Heroes Hall Veterans Museum, Centennial Farm, Equestrian Center and the administration building lobby until further notice.

    OC Fair & Event center will continue to follow public health directives.

    The following events previously scheduled to take place at OC Fair & Event Center have been impacted: 

    • Orange County Market Place – weekends, canceled until further notice
    • Farmers Market – Thursdays, canceled until June 18
    • OC Wine Fest – June 13-14, canceled
    • BrideWorld – June 14, canceled
    • OC Market Place Taco Fest – June 20, canceled
    • Costa Mesa Speedway – June 20, canceled
    • FamFest – June 20-21, canceled
    • Pacific Symphony – July 4 & Aug. 21, canceled
    • 2020 OC Fair – July 17-Aug. 16, canceled
    • SoCal World Guitar Show – Aug. 22-23, canceled
    • Irish Festival – Sept. 5-6, canceled

    The following is a list of events originally scheduled for earlier this year that have been rescheduled for a later date: 

    • AAOC Trade Show and Conference – March 26, postponed to Sept. 10
    • Mom Made Market – March 28-29, postponed to Oct. 10-11
    • Fight Club – April 9 & June 11, postponed until Oct. 15 & Nov. 12
    • OC Marathon – May 1-3, postponed to Nov. 6-8
    • OC Night Market – May 8-10 & May 15-17, postponed to Oct. 23-25 & Oct. 30-Nov. 1 

    For a complete list of upcoming scheduled events, please visit

  • Tuesday, October 17, 2017 (3:01 pm)

    Centennial Farm to host exclusive wine dinner featuring special guests

    redbarn_692x400On Saturday, Nov. 4, 2017, Centennial Farm at OC Fair & Event Center will host The Red Barn: Fire-and-Ash Wine Dinner, a unique dining experience featuring talented chefs, special guests and, best of all, a scrumptious multi-course farm-to-fork wine dinner.

    To start, the exclusive event will feature live-fire exhibition-style appetizers, sparkling wines provided by Orange County Wine Society (OCWS) and tours of the farm and garden at 6:30 p.m. The Millennium Barn doors will then open at 7:30 p.m. for a multi-course family-style wine dinner featuring California’s bountiful produce and artisan meats cooked exclusively on an open fire in ash.

    The live-fire cooking style is not a new trend, but it has become more popular in the last year or so as restaurants throughout the country are swapping out gas for wood. Bon Appetit wrote in June: “It’s funny to call this return to cooking with fire a trend. If it is, it’s certainly the oldest trend in the book. And yet there is no arguing that the burning hearth has of late gripped the restaurant world, seeming to bestow the imprimatur of ‘serious chef’ on anyone who embraces it.”

    Cracklin’ wrapped porchetta will be served with blistered fingerling potatoes, and a grilled, split Cornish game hen will go well with fall succotash straight from Centennial Farm’s own garden. An ash-roasted autumn squash trio will feature rosemary, garlic and honey, while lemon-wilted spinach sides beef steak Portobello.

    Need more to get your mouth watering? View the entire menu at

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    The menu will be prepared by Executive Chef Jesse Lopez, of Spectra Food Services, and has been curated by Chef Annie Morgan, of KOCI Radio’s Pots and Pans with Jack and Annie

    Honored special guest for the evening is French-American artist Guy Buffet, whose restaurant-themed art has been featured in Food Arts and Wine & Travel magazines.

    Speakers for the evening include:
    Michele Richards, VP of Business Development, OC Fair & Event Center
    Dan Kohler, food scientist on Hallmark Channel’s “Home & Family”
    Melissa Cortina, butcher and owner of Bavette Meat & Provisions
    Thom Curry, owner of Temecula Olive Oil Company
    Irv Wnuck, wine expert and COO, Seize the Vine Wine Brokerage

    Featured local farmers, artisans and wineries include:
    Melissa’s Produce
    OC Baking Company
    M.O.F. Chef Stéphane Tréand of The Pastry School
    Angeline Vineyards
    Martin Ray Vineyards
    Courtney Benham Wines
    Orange County Wine Society

    Service provided by Buena Park Future Farmers of America, and Orange County School of the Arts Culinary Arts & Hospitality Students.

    Tickets to this exclusive event are $125 per person (available on Ticketmaster), which includes dinner, wines, gratuity, tax and parking. 

    Support of The Red Barn dinner provides year-round educational opportunities through Centennial Farm, Heroes Hall and Imaginology, and helps fund our community give-back programs.

  • Friday, June 16, 2017 (4:44 pm)

    Master chocolatier serves up French treats and culinary masterpieces at 2017 OC Fair

    The 2017 OC Fair won’t just be a fried food frenzy. Award-winning pastry chef and master chocolatier Stephané Tréand will showcase his talents in the OC Promenade during the Fair’s run from July 14 through Aug. 13.

    Tréand, a Tustin resident, is the owner of The Pastry School and St. Pâtisserie Chocolat in Costa Mesa. His next adventure will be a booth at the 2017 OC Fair.

    From chocolate to croissants, macarons to meringues, Tréand will have a large variety of French treats at his booth. The big item will be a macaron gelato sandwich, which is a first for the OC Fair. He will also have a chocolate orange tarte to represent Orange County and the OC Fair.

    Tréand’s demonstrations will feature tartlets, chocolate bonbons, truffles, caramels, macarons, cookies, marshmallows, profiteroles and more.

    On Sunday, July 30, he’ll be on the Main Stage creating a highly technical sugar art sculpture right before your eyes! Keeping with the OC Fair’s Farm Fresh Fun theme, Tréand will use the power of a fire torch to glue large pieces of the sugar together to create one magnificent piece of art.

    “My piece has to be unique for the Fair,” Tréand said. “I don’t recycle ideas.”

    Tréand will also hold cookie decorating classes for kids and teens on July 27 and August 6. Although the cookies will be baked a head of time, it will be up to the kids to create their designs using the variety of colors of royal icing, edible pearls and more.

    “They won’t have to follow a recipe or anything, they will have total freedom to be creative,” Tréand said. “The creative freedom allows kids to create something they can feel proud of, so I think it will be really great for them.”

    Originally from Paris, Tréand got his start as an apprentice at a local pastry shop in Northern France, all while taking pastry courses one week per month in Vincennes, Paris. Tréand opened his first patisserie tearoom, Pâtisserie Tréand, in Brignoles in Provence in 1989. A few years later, he decided to share his passion of pastries with others and became a teacher at the CFA of St. Maximin.

    Tréand’s knack for sweets isn’t the only special thing about him. In 2004, he won the coveted Meilleur Ouvrier de France (M.O.F.), which is the most prestigious award given by the President of France to a professional in a certain trade.

    Tréand led a stage demo at the 2016 OC Fair and was a huge success. This year he’ll have his own booth in OC Promenade.

    “People are very curious about the art of patisseries here,” Tréand said. “I’m looking forward to educating people and making people aware of working from scratch, artistry and French pastries.”


  • Thursday, June 15, 2017 (5:03 pm)

    La Habra culinary team wins Cooking Up Change contest

    Congratulations to the La Habra culinary team for winning the Cooking Up Change challenge!

    The contest, sponsored by Kid Healthy, was held on June 12 and featured a total of seven teams. 

    Centennial Farm hosted a workshop for Orange County’s Cooking Up Change students early in the season. Kid Healthy is one of the programs Centennial Farm’s supervisor Evy Young and Culinary Arts supervisor Pam Wnuck have supported because they promote agriculture, nutrition, culinary initiatives and healthy eating.

    Read more about the competition on OC Register

  • Monday, May 22, 2017 (4:41 pm)

    Olive Oil Competition lends even more flavor to the OC Fair

    A little olive oil goes a long way to enhance food. In California, and specifically Orange County, a bit of olive oil drizzled over a bed of bright green lettuce and fresh, juicy tomatoes with a side of perfectly ripe avocado makes the kind of meal summers are made of.

    So with that freshness in mind, the 2017 OC Fair held its inaugural California Olive Oil Competition, and winners will be featured this summer during the Fair. The competition focused on the Fair’s theme of “Farm Fresh Fun” and was open to all California olive oil producers.

    Fairgoers will be able to enjoy complimentary tastings of these decadent olive oils, as well as learn a few tricks of the trade at food pairing demos hosted by the olive oil makers. The award-winning products will be available for sale in the OC Promenade.

    The olive oils were divided into two divisions for the competition: extra virgin olive oils (EVOO) and flavored olive oils, which could either be co-milled or infused. Gold, Silver and Best of Show medals were awarded.

    The four-member OC Fair Olive Oil Tasting Panel tasted 33 olive oils.

    Nancy Ash, of Strictly Olive Oil, served as head judge and adviser. As a professional olive oil consultant, she has been a frequent judge at various fairs including the California State Fair, the Big Fresno Fair San Joaquin Valley Olive Oil Competition and the Los Angeles County Fair.

    This year’s competition was coordinated by OC Fair & Event Center’s team of Evy Young, agriculture education supervisor; Barbara Gregerson, garden and floral program coordinator; and Pamela Wnuck, culinary arts supervisor.

    Meet the OC Fair Olive Oil Tasting Panel

    Thom Curry – proprietor, Temecula Olive Oil Company; member, California Olive Oil Council Tasting Panel; professional olive oil taster; sommelier and wine tasting judge
    Lawrence Jacobs – conventional and specialty grocery buyer, Oliver’s Markets; member, California Olive Oil Council Tasting Panel
    Arden Kremer – organic and biodynamic grape grower in Sonoma County; member, California Olive Oil Council Tasting Panel
    Kathryn Tomajan – Oleologist; miller; educator; olive grower; expert taster and trained sensory panel member; and member, California Olive Oil Council Tasting Panel

    The OC Fair Olive Oil Tasting Panel received intensive training from members of the California Olive Oil Council pursuant to the guidelines of the International Olive Council.


    Extra Virgin Olive Oils division winners

    Best of Show – Lodi Olive Oil’s Ascolano

    Silver Medals – Tyler Florence Test Kitchen (Blend), Fandango (Blend), Calivirgin Premium (Arbequina), ENZO Ranch 11 (Arbosana), ENZO Ranch 20 (Arbosana) Fandango (Arbequina), San Miguel Olive Farm Pristine (Italian blend), Macala (Blend), ENZO Ranch 11 (Koroneiki) and ENZO Ranch 20 (Koroneiki)

    Gold Medals – Lodi Olive Oil (Ascolano), San Miguel Olive Farm Nectar (Italian Blend), ENZO Ranch 11 (Arbequina) and ENZO Ranch 20 (Arbequina)

    Flavored Olive Oils division winners

    Best of Show – Calivirgin’s Hot Virgin Jalapeno

    Silver Medals – ENZO (Clementine), Calivirgin (Rosemary), Calivirgin (Basil) and ENZO (Basil) and Calivirgin (Garlic)

    Gold Medals – Calivirgin (Blood Orange), Calivirgin (Hot Virgin Jalapeño), Calivirgin (Jalapeño-Garlic), Calivirgin (Lemon), Calivirgin (Habañero) and ENZO (Fresno Chili)