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Sunset Whips Up 3-Day Festival in Long Beach of Food, Drink, Chefs

October 27, 1994|SUSAN PATERNO | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

Steve Seabolt of Rancho Palos Verdes knows the recipe for success in advertising. "Get a clear understanding of what the customer wants," he said. "Match the product to their needs. Then measure the results in dollars."

As publisher of Sunset magazine, Seabolt follows the recipe with the aplomb of a French chef whipping up a creme brulee . He knows his customers. And he plans to get to know them even better this weekend when he and the rest of the magazine staff hold a three-day festival of food, drink, celebrity chefs and the magazine's advertisers called "The Tastes of Sunset" at the Long Beach Convention Center.

Seabolt, a veteran ad executive who previously has managed such clients as Honda, Time, People and Sports Illustrated, took over the publisher's desk at Sunset in January. He has presided over a magazine on the rise. Recent circulation has grown to 1.5 million, the best showing in years, said Brianne Murphy Miller, the magazine's public relations manager.

Under Seabolt's stewardship, the magazine continues its mission to bring travel, food, gardening and remodeling tips into the homes of the West's affluent consumers.

In Southern California, that means Pavilions shoppers.

"Our circulation is strongest in areas where Pavilions chooses to put stores," he said. "Quite frankly, that means (the) upper middle class. We deliver huge numbers to Palos Verdes, Pasadena, San Marino, certain areas of Long Beach, the South Bay's beach cities."

Seabolt, 42, traces his love of advertising to his father, who owned a public relations firm in Chicago. In his 20s, Seabolt moved to Arizona to attend business school, fell in love with the West and has been in Los Angeles--and in the advertising business--most of his life since.

Every week, Seabolt commutes from the Palos Verdes Peninsula, where he has lived for 13 years, to Sunset's main office in Menlo Park in Northern California. He usually spends two nights a week away from his three children and wife, Elizabeth, an optometrist who practices in Redondo Beach. The family lives in Southern California, he said, because they like the lifestyle.

"There's a lot about the West that's appealing," he said, "the lifestyle, the climate, the attitude of the people. Westerners embrace change, they're not bounded by tradition. The farther west you move, the greater the level of openness to new ideas."

He said many advertisers launch new products in the West first before the rest of the country. "In the case of Sunset, we can deliver (millions) of readers to advertisers who embrace change and are open to new things."

Seabolt plans a few changes at the magazine in the coming years, but none will be jarring. "We have a formula that works very well," he said. "People know and trust the magazine the way it is." He does, however, hope to make "The Tastes of Sunset" an annual festival in Western cities after this weekend's debut in Long Beach.

In his spare time, Seabolt plans to continue cultivating his passion for gardening, though he says he'll leave the cooking to somebody else. "I can stir up a mean tuna sandwich," he said. "But that's about the extent of my ability in the kitchen."

"The Tastes of Sunset" opens Friday at noon and continues Saturday and Sunday at the Long Beach Convention and Entertainment Center. Admission is $10 for adults, $8 for seniors. Children under 12 are free. Discount coupons are available at Pavilions supermarkets. For information, call 1 (800) 321-1213.

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Song Whang of Torrance has been named a Rufus Choate Scholar at Dartmouth College, where he is a senior. Choate scholars are ranked in the top 5% of their class.

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Torrance resident Karen Masurlian recently departed for Russia, where she will work as a Peace Corps volunteer. Masurlian, 28, a former middle school teacher, has a graduate degree in administration from Pepperdine University. In Russia, she will teach English to university-level students.

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Carmela Raack and Gwen Vuchsas, both Westchester residents, were named Rotarians of the Year by the Westchester Rotary Club. Raack, a Rotary Club member since 1987, has coordinated youth and vocational services for the club. Vuchsas began the club's El Sauzal orphanage project in Mexico and is the club's director of community services.

Items for this column may be sent to People Column, South Bay Edition, Los Angeles Times, 23133 Hawthorne Blvd., Torrance, CA 90505.

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