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Two bites for everyone

Dean Torrence says he's the guest star at Taste of Huntington Beach and that the Surf City All-Stars will probably dominate.

April 26, 2011|By Michael Miller, michael.miller@latimes.com

This weekend, Huntington Beach will get a serenade from the man who gave it its name.

Well, its second name, anyway.

Henry Huntington, the railroad magnate whose firm developed the city in 1909, may not have been renowned for his singing voice. But Dean Torrence, half of the 1960s surf-rock duo Jan and Dean, helped put Huntington on the tourist map in 1991 when he successfully lobbied to have it nicknamed "Surf City."

That, of course, was the title of Jan and Dean's biggest hit, a No. 1 song highlighted by the joyous refrain "Two girls for every boy." And when Torrence takes the stage Sunday at the Taste of Huntington Beach, it's a safe bet he'll work that number into his set.

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So how many times has Torrence sung "Surf City" over the years? He'd have to dig into his personal archives for an answer.

"If we've done 3 or 4,000 concerts, we've sung 'Surf City' at most of them," said Torrence, who moved to Huntington in the late 1980s.

Torrence, who called the Taste one of his favorite local events, has served as a food judge in the past, but Sunday will be his first time performing there. Already, Torrence's appearance may have made a difference — advance ticket sales are up 22% from last year, according to spokesman Matt Liffreing.

Joining Torrence on stage will be the Surf City All-Stars, a group of veteran surf-rock musicians who have toured with the Beach Boys, Brian Wilson and the Jan and Dean Show, which Torrence has called his act since Jan Berry's death in 2004.

Torrence considers himself a guest star at Sunday's show and said the All-Stars may dominate the set. Once the band starts playing, though, he's willing to improvise.

"I have a feeling that once we get up there, I'll end up doing more than a couple," Torrence said. "We'll play it by ear."

The Taste, now in its 11th year, raises funds for the Children's Department of the Huntington Beach Public Library. Restaurants set up booths around the Huntington Central Park Sports Complex and offer unlimited food samples for the gate admission price, which ranges from $65 to $85.

Forty-three eateries are on board so far for this year, ranging from chains like Corner Bakery Café and Whole Foods Market to local staples like La Brique Steak House. The four-hour event also features a silent auction and samples from local wineries and breweries, plus prizes for best food preparation, dessert, decoration and more.

The grand prize of the event is Best Taste, which honors the best eatery and went last year to Sandy's Beach Grill.

"This is the culinary Oscars, and they're stepping up to defend their title," Liffreing said.

If You Go

What: Taste of Huntington Beach

Where: Huntington Central Park Sports Complex, 18100 Goldenwest St., Huntington Beach

When: Noon to 4 p.m. Sunday

Cost: $65 general admission, $85 VIP ticket

Information: Visit http://www.hbrestaurants.com/taste/

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