They’ve starved themselves for a week. Worked out like crazy. But on Oscars night, there’s no stopping them. It’s time for the celebs to eat. And when you need to feed the most powerful (and hungry) people in Hollywood, there’s always one guy you can trust to be at the helm. Chef Wolfgang Puck makes his own magic every year, helped by the 30 pounds of caviar he serves.
Oscar after-parties are by no means few and far between. We have Vanity Fair, Jay Z & Beyoncé, and Elton John, to name just a few, all throwing some of the most iconic post-ceremony shindigs. And it seems that each Oscar bash has its own claim to fame. For Vanity Fair, it’s Mark Seliger’s custom-built portrait studio. For the Carters, ultra-exclusivity. Elton John’s blowout (co-hosted by Lady Gaga last year) famously benefits his AIDS foundation. Meanwhile, Madonna’s event is referred to as just “the Party.”
But for the Governors Ball, it’s all about the menu. Wolfgang Puck’s menu, no less. It’s also the first after-party of the night, hosted by the Academy’s governors themselves. Directly following the ceremony, about 1,500 stars make their way from the Dolby Theatre to the Ray Dolby Ballroom to get the party started. And after a three-hour, notoriously sober award show, the Governors Ball kicks off with booze — lots of it. The Oscar dinner supplies 1,500 bottles of champagne — one for each guest — and several hundred liters of spirits. Celebs can be found sipping on a Nominee Negroni or Hollywood Highball, made by professional mixologists.
The Menu of the Year
Celebrity chef Wolfgang Puck occasionally enlists a protégé when creating this monolith of an Oscar menu. This year, he’s chosen British chef Elliott Grover to help dream up a dinner truly fit for the stars. Heavily inspired by British post-wartime cuisine with a fine-dining twist, celebs can expect to snack on UK classics. Think deep-fried haddock, perfectly mushy peas, and sherry trifle. By the numbers, the menu only gets more impressive. As of 2019, we’re talking 30 pounds of black truffles and 40 pounds of caviar. All for the 1,200 baked potatoes, of course. Puck’s claims to fame will also stick around this year, like his chicken pot pie and signature caviar pizzas.
Here are three recipes to recreate at home, inspired by this year’s Oscar menu.
Chicken Pot Pie
Out of the 30,000 dishes Wolfgang Puck serves up each year, the pot pie is his most famous, and the most requested. Those 30 pounds of truffles need to go somewhere, after all. Probably the poshest item on the Oscar dinner menu, the chicken pot pie is surprisingly easy to make at home. For your own Oscar menu, the recipe has been adapted to fit in mini, single-serve ramekins. It’s perfect for serving (and impressing) a crowd.
2 lb boneless, skinless chicken thighs
Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
3 tbsp all-purpose flour
4 tbsp vegetable oil
4 tbsp salted butter, divided
½ lb organic red-skinned potatoes, cut into ½-inch pieces
½ lb organic carrots, peeled and cut into ½-inch pieces
1 medium yellow onion, diced
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 sprig of thyme
1 bay leaf
Pinch of crushed red-pepper flakes
1 cup white wine
2 cups organic chicken stock
1 cup and 1 tbsp heavy cream
¼ cup dry sherry
½ cup shelled peas
½ pound puff pastry, defrosted following package instructions
1 cage-free egg
Shaved black truffles, for garnish
For the Filling
Begin by cutting your chicken into one-inch chunks. In a mixing bowl, season the pieces generously with salt and pepper. Then, toss the chicken with 2 tbsp of flour until it’s evenly coated. In a large skillet over high heat, heat 2 tbsp of your oil. Add the chicken pieces, reducing the heat slightly to sauté. Cook the chicken for about 5 to 10 minutes, turning them occasionally until golden brown and thoroughly cooked. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the chicken to a plate and set aside.
Next, add the remaining oil and 2 tbsp of butter to the same pan. Then add the potatoes, carrots, and onions. Sauté the vegetables for about 2 to 3 minutes, or until they look glossy and bright. Reduce the heat to medium before stirring in the garlic, red-pepper flakes, thyme, and bay leaf. Continue to sauté for an additional 2 to 3 minutes, or until the vegetables begin to color slightly.
Once your vegetables have darkened in color, bring the heat back to medium-high and add in the wine. Using a wooden spoon, scrape the bottom of the pan to deglaze any bonus bits of flavor. Let simmer until the liquid reduces by about half, 3 to 5 minutes. Next, add the chicken stock and 1 cup of cream. Bring the liquid to a boil, then reduce the heat slightly to a brisk simmer. After 15 minutes, it should reduce by about half again, leaving you with a thick, creamy sauce.
Next, remove the sprig of thyme and the bay leaf. Stir in the reserved chicken pieces and the sherry. In a small bowl, combine the remaining butter and flour into a paste. Stir the paste mixture into the sauce, then season generously to taste with salt and pepper.
Assembling the Pies
Transfer the pot pie filling to four individual ramekins. Cover each ramekin with plastic wrap and refrigerate until the filling has chilled for at least an hour. In the meantime, preheat your oven to 400 and begin preparing the puff pastry.
Roll out your pastry sheets, making sure they’re no thicker than ¼ inch. Using a sharp paring knife, cut the pastry into 4 circles. They should be large enough to hang over the rim of the ramekins by about half an inch. In a small bowl, beat together the egg and the remaining tablespoon of cream to create an egg wash. Brush the tops and the outsides of the ramekins’ rims. Place the ramekins on a baking tray, and place the puff pastry circles atop each one. Gently press the pastry over the sides of the dishes, and use the same sharp knife to pierce a few small holes on top. Brush the top of the pastries once more with egg wash, then transfer the tray to the oven.
Bake for about 25 to 35 minutes, until the filling is bubbling hot and the pastry is a deep golden brown. Let cool for just a few minutes before serving, then top with a few shaved black truffles.
Smoked Salmon Oscar Brioche
Even the most legendary chefs know how to have a little fun. And for Wolfgang Puck, fun looks like serving Oscar award-shaped hors d’oeuvres to the hottest actors in the business. Sure, it’s a little cheesy, but in the best way. Plus, this recipe requires almost no cooking, meaning more time for you to watch the season’s most iconic award show play out.
One loaf of high-quality brioche
2-4 tbsp olive oil
2 ounces of Iranian Ossetra caviar
1 lb smoked salmon
½ cup sour cream
½ cup crème fraîche
1 tbsp lemon juice
2 tbsp shallots, minced
1 tbsp fresh dill, chopped
A pinch of white ground pepper
A pinch of salt
Begin by cutting your brioche into 1-inch slices. Using a glass or rolling pin, gently roll the slices out to slightly flatten them. If you want the appetizer to be identical to Wolfgang Puck’s, use an Oscar-shaped cookie cutter like this one. Otherwise, just cut the bread slices into evenly shaped rectangles, trimming any crust. Toast the bread pieces in a pan with a bit of olive oil until golden on both sides.
For the Dill Cream
Next, in a small bowl, combine the sour cream, crème fraîche, lemon juice, shallots, dill, white pepper, and salt. Mix thoroughly, then spread about a tablespoon of the dill cream onto each piece of bread.
Layer a few pieces of smoked salmon on top of the toast, and finish with a dollop of caviar. Serve with extra dill for garnish.
Mini Wagyu Burgers
There’s something about sliders that just screams party food. But because it’s the Oscars and not the Super Bowl, we’re elevating the crowd-pleasing classic, Wolfgang Puck-style. Ground beef gets swapped with wagyu, pickles with cornichons, and a decadent remoulade ties it all together.
¾ lb prime ground beef, such as Kobe or wagyu
4 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
6 slices sharp cheddar cheese, quartered
12 mini sesame brioche buns
A handful of arugula
6 cherry tomatoes, sliced
½ cup mayonnaise
1 tbsp finely chopped red onion
1 tbsp ketchup
Pinch of kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 tbsp sherry vinegar
3 cornichons, sliced
1 tsp capers, drained and chopped
1 tsp chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
½ tsp chopped fresh thyme
⅛ tsp white sugar
For the Remoulade
In a small bowl, combine the red onion, ketchup, mayonnaise, sherry vinegar, capers, parsley, thyme, sugar, and a pinch of salt and pepper. Mix thoroughly, and set aside.
For the Burgers
Add the ground beef to a large mixing bowl. Season with ¾ tsp salt and ½ tsp freshly ground black pepper, then mix with your hands until just combined. Roll the beef mixture between your palms, yielding 12 meatballs. Transfer the meatballs to a baking sheet, then flatten the tops slightly by pressing into them with a piece of parchment paper. Drizzle with oil, and season both sides with the remaining salt and pepper.
Next, arrange the patties on your oiled grill or pan. Cook uncovered for 3 minutes, then flip and top each patty with a piece of cheese. Continue to grill, uncovered, for an additional 2 minutes or until the cheese is melted and the burgers are cooked to your liking. Meanwhile, place the buns cut-side down on the grill. Toast until just golden brown, about 1 minute.
To assemble the burgers, place a small spoonful of the remoulade on the bottom bun. Then add a patty, a sprinkle of arugula, a few tomato and cornichon slices, and then the bun top. Repeat with the remaining ingredients, and serve.
The Vanity Fair Oscar Party