Chef Wolfgang Puck at the 85th Annual Academy Awards (Photo: Kevork Djansezian / Getty Images)
The challenge: Throw an over-the-top cocktail party with dozens of gorgeous gourmet hors d’oeuvres, a luxurious seafood bar brimming with fresh, perfect shellfish, and a dizzying array of almost-too-pretty-to-eat desserts. Oh, and you’ll be serving 1,500 people… including some really rich and famous ones.
Not a problem for Chef Wolfgang Puck, who, along with his team, will be running Sunday’s Governors Ball like a well-oiled machine, a feat he manages to pull off every year. The party is held right upstairs from the Academy Awards ceremony and draws the evening’s winners, presenters, and other glittering guests.
Lobster BLTs, a new addition to this year’s menu. (Photo: Carin Krasner for Wolfgang Puck Catering)
"When people eat at the Governors Ball, it feels just like in our restaurant," he tells Yahoo Food.
Albeit on a slightly larger scale.
"I’m going to have 300 chefs in the kitchen and 600 waiters and bussers to serve so everybody will be served promptly," says Puck. "Hot food will be hot. Cold food will be cold. Everything is done perfectly."
The menu will be anchored by many of the celeb chef’s comfort food-meets-pure-decadence bites, such as spicy tuna tartare served in itty-bitty sesame miso cones (3,500 of them to be exact), Oscar-shaped matzo topped with house-smoked salmon, caviar-topped baked potatoes and, of course, Puck’s famous pizzas. He also plans to take advantage of the fleeting Santa Barbara spot-prawn season and add some of those wildly expensive suckers to the menu. Also new this year: mini lobster BLTs with bacon jam and tomato on brioche.
Wolfgang doing his thing. (Photo: Carin Krasner for Wolfgang Puck Catering)
“There are some favorites that, if they weren’t here, it would feel strange,” says Dennis Richardson, director of service for Wolfgang Puck Catering. “But we have to include things that are vegan and gluten-free too.” Vegans can get their fix on cheeseless veggie pizza or crispy artichokes with citrus-chili gremolata. The parsnip chip with caponata and capers, another item new on the roster this year, is vegan and gluten-free.
While most of the items are passed, each table will be armed with a platter of “cocktail bites” that includes savory goodies like aged Gouda, roasted nuts, and crab deviled eggs.
Tuna tartare in miso cones (Photo: Wolfgang Puck Catering)
Then there’s the sushi and shellfish bar, a mega-station of 1,500 stone crab claws, 1,300 oysters, 7,500 shrimp, and 600 Maine lobsters, along with clams, mussels, nigiri, and sushi rolls.
And finally, those fabled desserts–from violet crème brûlée to tiny hot fudge sundaes to the annual Oscar lollipops.
Though it might seem like Puck needed to start cooking around Christmas to pull this off, he’s clearly an against-the-clock guy. “We really buy ingredients and prepare everything at the last moment,” he says, adding that his kitchen receives most of its fresh ingredients on Friday. “Then we start to prep everything. The chicken pot pie, for example, we cook the chicken Saturday morning and then we make the sauce and then we put it together on Sunday morning and then we just have to bake them.”
A fraction of the seafood that will be served (Photo: Yahoo Food)
Once in a while he’ll make a special dish, by request, for an over-the-moon Oscar winner. “I remember when Ang Lee came and he won an Oscar for best director. I made him a Hong Kong-style steamed fish… and he said, ‘Oh my God, this is like home cooking.’” Whether he’ll be whipping up something on the fly this year remains to be seen, but his first request already came in weeks ago. “Barbra Streisand has asked for the chicken pot pie.”
And, as we know, Babs always gets what she wants.
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