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Wednesday, May 25, 2022

A-List for FFF; Register Boss Eyes Times, Looks Beyond Libertarianism

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Vinny Smith got the Irvine-based Fuel Freedom Foundation off to fine start on its campaign to encourage the development of cheaper, cleaner, American-made replacement fuels for gasoline. Smith donated $1 million to the nonprofit, founded by Newport Coast resident and Quest Software cofounder Eyal Aronoff along with Yossie Hollander of Shady Canyon, who sold his New Dimension Software to BMC Software in Tel Aviv some years ago. Smith owned about a third of Aliso Viejo-based Quest at the time of its recent $2.4 billion sale to Dell. His gift to FFF came a few days in advance of a launch party for non-profit’s campaign, an event slated for last Saturday at the home of Aronoff and his wife, Yael, as the Insider went to press. The party promised “amazing people who have a vision for changing the world.” Its lineup billed star power, with former Stray Cats bassist Lee Rocker and Los Lobos on hand to entertain; a literary feel, thanks to emecee Mark Victor Hansen, co-author of Chicken Soup for the Soul; and security savvy and industrial credentials in the forms of former CIA Director R. James Woolsey and former Shell Oil President John Hofmeister. Virgin’s Sir Richard Branson was expected to make a video appearance, giving the event a global flavor. Local spice was on the menu, with winning entries from a recent video competition at Chapman University’s Dodge College of Film and Media Arts …

Aaron Kushner, whose Boston-based 2100 Trust bought Freedom Communications and the OC Register a few months ago, is starting to weigh in as publisher of the daily. He recently cited simple geography in telling our Heidi Kulicke that it “makes sense” for his outfit to consider a bid for the LA Times. “If and when they get out of bankruptcy, conversations are relevant at that time,” Kushner said. “It’s in an adjacent market.” Kushner also said the Register will continue to count on its libertarian tradition as a baseline for its commentary pages but offer more room for other viewpoints as part of a bid to re-energize the publication …

The executive chef position at the St. Regis’ four-star Stonehill Tavern marks a return to OC for Raj Dixit, who grew up in Mission Viejo and attended Capo High School before graduating from the Culinary Institute of America and taking on prominent chef stints in Texas, New York City and New Jersey. Dixit is putting his stamp on the menu of the Michael Mina restaurant (reporter Mark Mueller recommends the Nebraska côte de boeuf, roasted whole on a bed of alfalfa hay) and notes that not all his influences are high-end. Dixit grew up loving double-doubles, animal style, at In-N-Out Burger, along with sushi at Taiko in Irvine …

Congrats to Andy Bornhop, former managing editor of Road & Track, which recently moved its editorial office from Newport Beach to Ann Arbor, Michigan. Bornhop just signed on as executive editor of Cycle World in Irvine, which had been a sister publication of R&T before its sale to Bonnier Corp. in Winter Park, Fla., last year.

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