SM PIER — The Santa Monica Chamber of Commerce has partnered with Cirque du Soleil’s “KOOZA” to host its eighth annual Taste of Santa Monica food festival on the Santa Monica Pier on Sunday.

This year, guests will enjoy a longer live music performance, new sunset Happy Hour and also a chance to win and receive discounts on “KOOZA” tickets.

“Santa Monica obviously loves Cirque du Soleil,” Laurel Rosen, CEO of the Chamber of Commerce said. “They’re good partners to the community.”

The aim of this year’s event was to make the festival accessible and enjoyable for everyone, Rosen said, citing new ticket prices, extended hours, and an array of new attractions. Festivalgoers will get a chance to mingle with the “KOOZA” street team as they sample foods from the event’s new and veteran restaurants.

“The restaurant is only blocks from the event, so we feel like our location is very special,” Bob Lynn, owner of Santa Monica’s La Grande Orange restaurant and a first-time participant in the Taste, said. His booth will be featuring burgers made in the fresh philosophy of the restaurant’s clean cuisine. “We love being involved with anything to do with the community” Lynn said.

Hotel Shangri-la will also be a festival newcomer, showcasing the work of its executive chef, Dakota Weiss. Weiss will be preparing dishes such as octopus ceviche and blackberry panna cotta.

“She does such a great take on farm-to-table and fresh and organic produce and meat,” Tehmina Adaya, the hotel’s owner said.

Guests can also try their hand at contributing to their own culinary experience at the interactive conveyor belt in the international pizza tent, while kids can cook with the chefs and sculpt things out of water bottles in the kids’ corner, sponsored by Y-Water. For those guests 21 and over, the Taste will have wine booths, sponsored by Albertsons, and a beer garden, courtesy of Budweiser.

If in need of a break from food and drink, guests are also invited to check out the Red Bull Lounges, featuring actual soapboxes that will be competing in next weekends’ Red Bull Soapbox Race Challenge in Downtown Los Angeles.

“We’ve really tried to make it a great family fun day that’s all inclusive for the community,” Rosen said.

Upon admission, attendees will also have the opportunity to donate to one of the four non-profits supported by PeBL, the Chamber’s Professionals Emerging as Business Leaders program.

The festival is scheduled from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m., but all-you-can-eat-and-drink VIP ticket holders will be admitted at 12:30 p.m. The new sunset happy hour will run from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m., accompanied by an extended live music performance. Tickets are $10 for adults, $5 for kids 10 years and under, and free for children under 2 years of age. VIP tickets are $65. Please visit www.tasteofsantamonica.com or call (310) 393-9825, ext. 10 for tickets and other information.

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