Special Event
John Cuevas
John Cuevas

California Cult Wine Dinner

John Cuevas
Wine Director Christopher Coon
Cheese Sommelier Starr Cornwall
The Loft at Montage Resort & Spa | Laguna Beach, CA

Monday, January 9, 7:00 pm
Members $90, guests $115

Camping out all night, paying through the nose, bribing distributors…some oenophiles will do anything to get their hands on California’s limited production bottles, which have come to be known as “cult” wines. These wines have inspired bidding frenzies at auctions, and are almost impossible to find on restaurant wine lists. For this very special dinner, wine director Christopher Coon of the luxurious Montage Resort & Spa has assembled some of the Golden State’s most elite wines, rarely seen outside of private collections, which will be paired with the expert cooking of John Cuevas, chef of the Loft, and the selections of Montage’s cheese sommelier, Starr Cornwall.

A counterpart to Montage’s signature Studio restaurant, the Loft features the seasonal country-inspired cooking of John Cuevas. In her Orange County Register review, Elizabeth Evans praised Cuevas’s “impressive…market-driven” cuisine, singling out dishes like the “fabulous” agnolotti with hon shimeji mushrooms. Cuevas came to the Loft from Studio, where he worked under chef James Boyce. Over the years, Cuevas has also cooked alongside Boyce at Mary Elaine’s at the Phoenician in Scottsdale, Arizona, and at the Market Café at Loews Coronado Beach Resort in San Diego. Before joining Montage, Cuevas ran the kitchen of Motif at the St. Regis Monarch Beach in Dana Point, California.

Starr Cornwall’s cheese stylings at the Loft and Montage are “alchemy of the first order,” according to Evans. In Riviera magazine, Gillian Flynn dubbed her “the rock star of cheese,” calling Cornwall’s Cheese Gallery, an interactive cheese station in the restaurant, “fromage heaven.” At the Cheese Gallery and on the custom cheese plates she creates for hotel guests, Cornwall offers a selection of different cheeses from around the world, which she pairs with homemade condiments, crackers, reductions, and sauces. Cornwall, who began cooking at the age of 15, has also worked as a private chef for Donna Karan, Sean Dupont, and Sean “Diddy” Combs.

“Christopher Coon is equal parts Einstein and 007,” Sarah DiGregorio wrote in Riviera. An advanced sommelier, Coon is in charge of the hotel’s list of 45,000 bottles and is currently working on a revolutionary wine storage system. Coon’s previous posts include the Phoenician, Aureole at Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino in Las Vegas, and Ventana Room at Loews Ventana Canyon in Tucson.

Selection of California Cheeses with Housemade Jellies and Crackers; Hot-Smoked Northern California Salmon Beignets with Manuka Honey; Longline Albacore Tuna with Sichuan Peppercorns and Teriyaki Sauce; and Sticky Rice with Marinated Maitake Mushrooms

Kongsgaard Napa Valley Viognier-Roussane 2003
Williams Selyem Westside Road Neighbors Russian River Valley Pinot Noir 2003


Barbecued Pacific Spiny Lobster with Creamed Corn and Organic Parmesan

Sine Qua Non Whisperin’ E 2002

Salad of Weiser Farms Winter Squash with California Goat Cheese, Tarragon, and Meyer Lemon

Rochioli Sauvignon Blanc 2003

Pan-Seared Butterfish with Charred Chorizo, Asparagus, and Pepperoncini Jus

Peter Michael La Carrière Estate Chardonnay 2002

28-Day, Dry-Aged, Coffee-Crusted New York Strip with Point Reyes Blue Cheese, Wild Arugula, and Bourbon-Caramel Butter

Turley Dusi Vineyard Zinfandel 2003

Andante Dairy’s Nocturne Cheese with California Almonds, Apples, and Warm Honey

Liquid Chocolate with Frozen French Toast

Turley Cellars Delinquent Zinfandel 2001

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