Regardless of who earns an Oscar at the 92nd Academy Awards on Sunday, everyone will get to eat, drink and party like a winner at the Governors Ball.
Following the show, nominees like Brad Pitt, Cynthia Erivo, Leonardo DiCaprio and Scarlett Johansson will usher in to the annual soirée, which will be held in a ballroom decorated in luxe purple and mixed metallic hues designed by Sequoia Productions owner and president Cheryl Cecchetto and Academy Governor, Awards and Events Committee chair Lois Burwell.
As for the inspiration behind the décor this year, Burwell told PEOPLE at a preview event for the ball that she was inspired by a cue card that was used during a rehearsal for the show last year.
“I was like, ‘I really like that color palette. If I’m lucky enough to be voted in to be in the same position again, I really would like to use that palette,'” she said. “It’s soft, but yet with the metals it’s sort of industry as well. It’s glamorous, and there’s something relaxing about purples. I know it’s associated with royalty, but that wasn’t the intent.”
Throughout the space will be floral arrangements in a variety of purple shades ranging from eggplant to lavender made by Mark’s Garden Los Angeles. Michael Uncapher, the managing director of Mark’s Garden, said that they went for “an ombre of purple color” in the arrangements and that they’ll get in 12,000 blooms from all over the world — including countries like Holland, Thailand and Ecuador — to bring their vision to life this year.
“Those come in the Wednesday before the ball, and it takes about 40 people to start processing those and making roughly 400 arrangements,” he said. “Then we’re just refreshing as we go.”
The Governors Ball is indeed a huge production. Cecchetto (who is on her 32nd year of producing the event) revealed that their team the night of is made up of more than 1,000 people.
“It’s quite enormous,” she said. “We’ve been preparing for months and months and months, and then we have a three-hour event where everything must be prepared à la minute. It has to be precise. It’s really restaurant service, when you think about it.”
Helping to bring the restaurant service to the Governors Ball is chef Wolfgang Puck, who has catered the event for the last 26 years with his team. This year is slightly different for Puck though, as the menu will be 70% plant-based, while the remaining 30% of the menu will offer vegetarian, meat and fish items.
“We always had plant-based menu items, we always had great pasta dishes, great vegetarian dishes, we just never said, ‘Okay, this is vegan, this is vegetarian,'” Puck said. “So we’ve always been very concerned about the environment, and we always support the local farmers so they bring us the best vegetables. They just pick them out of the earth the day before, so they taste really delicious. So to me, vegan is not something where you say, ‘Oh my God, I have to cook vegan!’ For me, I want to do it. I love it.”
Puck added that the guests are “going to be surprised” by his vegan dishes.
“I think when they try our eggplant with the forbidden rice or the vegetarian couscous or the homemade tofu with roasted vegetables, they’re going to say, ‘I didn’t know vegetables could taste that amazing,'” he said. “We are going to have a vegan pasta with truffles, and the whole world is going to say, ‘Okay, if that is what vegan is, then I’m going to be a vegan.'”
For the big day, Puck and his team are making 300 pounds of vegan pasta and 60 sides of smoked salmon for their smoked salmon dish, which is served on an Oscar statuette-shaped cracker. In addition, they ordered 200 pounds of eggplant, 20 pounds of caviar and 25 pounds of black truffles.
They’ll be using a good portion of their truffles to make 1,200 of their famous black truffle chicken pot pies, which are served in individual ramekins and topped with a buttery puff pastry. In total, they’ll serve 25,000 plates that night of more than 40 different dishes.
“It’s a lot of pressure, but we’re used to it,” Puck said. “I’ve been doing it for 26 years already. The best moment is when it’s over. I can sit down and get a glass of 1942 Don Julio!”
When it comes time for dessert, Wolfgang Puck’s pastry chef Garry Larduinat will be serving up a variety of sweets including both vegan and non-vegan options.
“What was important this year was, of course, variety,” he said. “You want to have a lot of different items. But something we also really wanted to [incorporate] was the theme of being very environment-friendly and organic. That actually goes super well with the menu description, which is vegan, for the most part.”
Larduinat said that coming up with innovative vegan dessert recipes for the ball this year wasn’t easy — but it was fulfilling.
“We had a couple of headaches, I can tell you that,” Larduinat said. “As a French chef, you lose your butter, you lose your cream, you lose your dairy. It’s like, ‘Okay, what am I going to do?’ But that’s how you become a better chef when you go out of your comfort zone and you’re making new things. Like, I’m going to substitute my cream with coconut cream and so on. The first try you might not make it, but eventually you get there.”
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Among the vegan dessert options are translucent candy lollipops. One option is filled with gold leaf, an edible flower and elderflower essence, while another is filled with dry mango and jalapeño.
They’ll also be making 6,000 of their signature chocolate Oscar statues, which will require 400 pounds of chocolate and 600 cookies.
“Something you learn by working with chef Wolf is the more prepared you are, the better it comes out,” he said. “So we want to make sure we are set for success. It’s an honor to do the Oscars every year.”
Of course, there will be plenty of libations to wash down the bites, including a 2018 reserve pinot noir and 2017 reserve chardonnay by Francis Ford Coppola, which will be poured from special hand-coated bottles trimmed in gold foil made for the Oscars. In total, about 1,200 bottles of the wines will be poured that night.
In addition, 1,500 magnum-size bottles of Piper-Heidsieck champagne will be served. That’s more than 8,500 glasses of bubbly. For their sixth year as the sole champagne of the Oscars, Piper-Heidsieck brought back their prohibition-era label from 100 years ago.
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Those seeking a cocktail won’t need to look far as mixologist Charles Joly will be serving up signature Don Julio Tequila concoctions, including a drink called “When You Have Passion…” which will be served in mini Don Julio bottles when guests arrive.
“We’ll be batching up about 12,000 cocktails for the event,” Joly said. “That’s got to be at least 100 cases of Blanco, but we’re also serving Don Julio 70, Don Julio Añejo and even 1942, which is an extra-aged, beautiful, luxury tequila.”
Joly said there will be a “cocktail for everyone” at the Governors Ball, including a “Nominees’ Negroni,” a “Cinemargarita,” a “Hollywood Highball” and even a non-alcoholic “Garden Party Martini” featuring Seedlip Garden 108. As for the drink he’s most excited for guests to try, Joly said it’s the “Golden Age,” which is a food pairing with a shot of Don Julio 1942.
“I love the 1942 pairing because it was a fun exercise to get back to my culinary roots,” he said. “We didn’t mix the 1942 with anything. I did a bite with Mexican flavors in it so we have mole, mango pâte de fui, smoked salt and micro fennel frond. So you sip the tequila, you take the bite, sip the tequila and it’s just a flavor explosion.”
The 92nd Annual Academy Awards will air live from the Dolby Theatre in Hollywood on Feb. 9 at 8 p.m. ET on ABC.