As the red carpet heated up with high-fash- ioned actors, producers and directors outside Hollywood’s Dolby Theatre on
Sunday, March 4, 2018, celebs of the culinary
kind were calm and cool behind the scenes,
preparing for one of the most famous after-parties
on Earth: The Oscars Governors Ball.
For the 24th consecutive year, renowned chef
Wolfgang Puck still has the leading role when it
comes to all things palate-pleasing at the ball—
whether classic or cutting-edge—as we discovered shadowing him and his ultra-talented team.
The sights alone, from chefs in action to
gorgeously crafted dishes, were enough to spur
endless Instagram, Twitter and Facebook posts
by anyone observing in the kitchen, and the
orchestration of events couldn’t have been more
With around 1,500 celebrity guests, the ball
may not be the largest event of the year for Wolf-
gang Puck Catering (WPC), but it certainly is
its most high-profile.
“The Academy Awards is the biggest party in
America, and [The Academy] lets us do what we
want to do, so we make part of it traditional and
part of it innovative,” Puck said when we caught
up with him after making his red carpet rounds.
“I think it’s always very exciting, and I
saw so many of the big stars down
there like Jodi Foster, Nicole Kid-
man and Warren Beatty. They
always say, ‘We’re going to
come and enjoy your beef
tonight and the chicken
The black truffled
chicken pot pie has been
a staple of Puck’s for
decades, as are other stars of The Governors
Ball menu, including smoked salmon on lavash,
mini burgers and chocolate Oscars sprayed
with real 24-karat gold dust.
Yet aside from the classic comforts, Puck and
his team create forward-thinking new dishes for
the ball every year, and 2018 was no exception.
“This year, we flew in Miyazaki Wagyu beef
from Japan, the best beef in the world, and we’re
serving it with a spicy carrot puree and a ponzu
jalapeno sauce,” Puck said, pointing out that the
day before, director Guillermo del Toro asked if he
would be making some beef for the ball. “He loves
our restaurant CUT, and I said, ‘Yes, and I’m going
to make it spicy for you!’ He was excited.”
We certainly savored the A-5-grade meat,
which indeed was so flavorful and tender it felt
like velvet butter on the palate, with just the right
kick of pepper.
Meanwhile, in another innovative culinary win,
WPC is the first company in the U.S. to spotlight
Callebaut Ruby Chocolate, a new 100 percent
Eric Klein, vice president of culinary at WPC,
couldn’t have been more excited about it.
“In the same way we are celebrating the best
at the Oscars today—best picture, best movie,
best actor—we are celebrating the best in food.
We are all about the quality,” Klein said.
“With the Ruby Chocolate, we are
the first in the U.S. to have the
privilege to serve it, so beautiful
and fruity and light, to the
elite of Hollywood.”
Bars of the superb
chocolate were prominently
featured at the ball, but
one dessert really stole
the show: Ruby Chocolate
Strawberry and Cream. This luscious and intri-
cately presented treat consisted of Callebaut Ruby
Chocolate, strawberry-hibiscus mousse, straw-
berry compote, vanilla sponge and mascarpone
cream. It may have been the most-photographed
plate of the night.
In all, there were 60-plus dishes on The
Governors Ball menu. So inspired were we by the
creativity and magnitude of the choices, not to
mention the levity of the evening, we decided to
launch our own Academy Awards of sorts, giving
“culinary” Oscars to best foreign-language dish,
best costume design, best supporting sauce
and best production design, to name a few (see
photos, this page, for our winners).
The exquisite attention to detail carries over
seamlessly to the service aspect of The Governors
Ball, which, instead of banquet spreads or plated
sit-down dinner courses, calls for firing food fresh
at timed intervals and passing thousands of small
plates throughout the evening, hand-delivered to
guests wherever they may be roaming, mingling,
lounging or sitting.
Carl Schuster, CEO of WPC, chatted with us
about the inception of the catering company and
the success of its concept.
“Wolfgang and I met 23 years ago to partner
on producing The Governors Ball,” he said. “He
created the menu. I designed the service aspect.
It was so successful that it was the nucleus of the
start of Wolfgang Puck Catering. The whole concept is to serve exceptional restaurant-quality food
in a catered environment. That’s how we started
and that’s still what we’re all about.” m
THE OSCARS GOVERNORS BALL 2018
AN INDELIBLY INDULGENT AFFAIR
WOLFGANG PUCK CATERING
BEST PRODUCTION DESIGN: CRAB-STUFFED HIBISCUS
BEST FOREIGN-LANGUAGE DISH: MIYAZAKI WAGYU BEEF
BEST SUPPORTING SAUCE: ROASTED EGGPLANT
WITH SQUID INK, BLACK SEA BASS
BEST COSTUME DESIGN: CHOCOLATE OSCAR IN 24-KARAT GOLD DUST
ON the SCENE
BY LORI TENNY
For more on The 2018 Governors Ball,
including video, check out the Wolfgang
Puck coverage on MeetingsToday.com.
BEST DISH: RUBY CHOCOLATE
STRAWBERRY AND CREAM