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June 01, 1995|LEO SMITH

Local chefs made a splash at the recent Santa Barbara Bouillabaisse Festival at the Brander Vineyard in Los Olivos.

Chef Gael Lecollay of Wheeler Hot Springs picked up the overall judge's award of excellence and was also awarded first place in the classic division. Chef Sandy Smith, owner of Ventura's Rosarito Beach Cafe, finished second in the open division behind Jerry Wilson of Oysters Restaurant in Santa Barbara.

Twenty-one restaurants participated in the event, preparing 110 gallons of the fish dish.

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More honors: The folks at Leeward Winery in Ventura recently walked away with a gold medal at the San Diego national wine competition. The winning entry was the winery's 1993 Napa Valley Merlot.

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June 9 is the tentative date of the much-anticipated opening of Pineapples, the new restaurant near the Ventura Holiday Inn, along the beachside Promenade.

Co-owner Chuck Smith said the restaurant will feature pasta, salads, pizzas, skewer dishes and daily entree specials. The menu was designed by Eric Wachter, a co-owner of Pineapples and owner of Eric Ericcson's seafood restaurant in Ventura.

Pineapples will be open for lunch straight through to dinner, serving until 11 p.m. nightly. In addition to full-service meals, there will be a regular alcohol bar, a coffee bar, dessert and coffee to go, and a gift shop.

Smith said the restaurateurs made a serious effort to make the place pleasant as a destination spot for locals and tourists alike. "Every seat in the house has an ocean view," he said. "We've gone to great lengths to keep it an open, airy, clean place."

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Shirley Puankosoom and her family came to the United States from Thailand in 1977. Within about a year, they were in the restaurant business, cooking up the cuisine of their homeland.

For the last five years, they've operated the Exotic Thai Cafe in Agoura Hills. And just a month ago, they opened another one in Newbury Park.

Puankosoom said she's particularly proud of the new restaurant's chicken coconut soup, chicken satay and chicken curry dishes, prepared by her sister, Sue Subanakyos.

The new Exotic Thai Cafe is at 2205 Michael Drive, near Blockbuster Video.

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