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Savoring the Challenge

First-time owner-chef says he has started to establish a loyal following at Nounou's.

March 06, 1997|LEO SMITH | TIMES STAFF WRITER

It's official. The sign at Nounou's restaurant in Camarillo went up last month and now its owners can say the establishment is open for business.

In fact, the continental restaurant has been open for seven months, but husband and wife co-owners Denis and Cristina Rion wanted to wait to hold the grand-opening celebration.

For Denis Rion, who doubles as Nounou's chef, operating a restaurant for the first time has proved a challenge.

"It's been rough, up and down, but everybody who has been coming has been very, very pleased with the food," said Rion, former executive chef at Tuscany Il Ristorante in Westlake. "It takes a lot of time of course, but I enjoy having new customers and building clientele and making sure when they leave the door they are mine for life."

Rion said his paella (with chicken, mussels, clams, calamari, scampi and prawns served over saffron rice; $21.75) is among the more popular entrees, as is the rack of lamb, ($21.95).

Rion said there are some changes planned. Within the next couple of months a cafe-style area with booths and small tables probably will be added near the front bar, where diners will be able to order fondue and appetizers, or eat their meals in a more casual setting. Nounou's is at 5227 Mission Oaks Blvd., Camarillo.

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Linda Wexler, author of a guide to tea houses on the West Coast, will find her way to one of the newer ones Saturday when she visits the Cat in the Garden Tea & Coffee House in Ventura. Wexler will sign "A Spot of Tea" from 2 to 4 p.m. Cat in the Garden is at 451 E. Main St., Suite 8, Ventura.

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New Jersey-based chef and cookbook author Rick Rodgers will visit the Let's Get Cookin' School in Westlake Village on Wednesday to extol the virtues of rice.

In his "Righteous Rice" class, Rodgers will discuss the differences between varieties of rice, suggest cooking techniques, and of course share a few recipes.

The class will begin at 6:30 p.m. Cost is $50. For reservations call (818) 991-3940.

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The deadline for this season's California Strawberry Festival's annual Berry-Off competition is fast approaching. All recipe entries must be received by March 15.

Original recipes, using strawberries as the main ingredient, are being accepted in six categories: hors d'oeuvres; soups and salads; main dishes and vegetables; breads, pancakes, and crepes; pies, cakes, cookies, and other desserts; and other (such as condiments, sauces, butters, vinegars and wines).

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