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Sampling In Style

by Deborah Lew / Los Angeles Kings
Shade Hotel in Manhattan Beach was the happening place to be on Sunday night, as the fourth annual Taste of the South Bay presented by HUSH HUSH Salon and the Los Angeles Kings was in full swing.

Nearly 20 of the South Bay’s most exciting restaurants were on hand to allow guests to sample their cuisine, which consisted of short ribs, tamales, pizza, gourmet grilled cheese sandwiches, tiger shrimp, chocolate truffles and so much more that it would have been challenging for any one person to have tried every option.

The Taste of the South Bay, formerly known as ‘HUSH UP with the Kings,’ featured a unique, cocktail-lounge type atmosphere, all held within the lobby, courtyard and pool deck of the trendy boutique hotel.

Aside from food and drink sampling, guests also enjoyed casino style gaming and a silent auction, as well as an opportunity drawing while being able to mingle with current and former Kings players and personnel. All proceeds from the multi-faceted event benefit the Kings Care Foundation.

“It’s a little more low key – it’s always fun, you get a chance to get down to the basic element and eat. Nobody can really look too good or be too on-guard when they’re eating,” said Kings defenseman Matt Greene, who has attended the event each of its four years.

“You’re not bottled down, there’s no lines, it’s just interaction,” added Greene, whose favorite part of the event was tasting the various foods. “A lot of people are opposed to waiting in line just to get autographs. This is something where we can really connect with the fans on a more personal level rather than just signing autographs and taking pictures.”

Kings players, alumni, Bailey the mascot, Ice Crew members and other personnel roamed the event freely, which offered fans a different type of platform for meeting and greeting, compared to more structured and organized events like Tip-A-King or the season seat member Meet the Players event.

“It’s a very casual setting and everybody feels relaxed, including the players. It’s common ground for everybody and everybody feels real comfortable just mingling with people,” said Daryl Evans, the Kings’ Radio Color Analyst.

The Kings’ partnership with HUSH HUSH Salon was born simply from the fact that many of the Kings players and their families are patrons of the Manhattan Beach salon. Four years ago, when the second salon was opened, the grand opening/charity event was the first of what has turned into an annual affair.

“We’ve had tremendous support from the local restaurants and businesses each year, but this year we had restaurants calling us asking to be a part of it.  It shows what a great event this has turned into. It’s something to look forward to each year for our fans and patrons of the restaurants,” said James Cefaly, the Kings’ Director of Fan Development and Community Relations.

Originally starting out as a smaller event, the Taste of the South Bay is certainly becoming less of a secret, as attendance increased by approximately 50 percent from last year.

“We had a large walk up this year, but fortunately and unfortunately, we were sold out. We had to turn away numerous people at the door. Next year we’ll plan for a bigger crowd. We can’t thank the restaurants enough that make this event possible,” Cefaly said.

And next year’s event is sure to be even more popular, especially if Greene has anything to do with the marketing and promotion efforts. When asked what he thought of the event in general, he replied with a sly grin:

“It’s a rip-roaring good time!”

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