New York Post
By Hailey Eber
February 21, 2015
Wolfgang Puck has been preparing for Oscar night for months, but he hasn’t yet watched the nominated films.
“I did not see any,” admits the chef, who — for the 21st year in a row — will be catering the Governors Ball, the official after-party of the Oscars, in a ballroom just above the Dolby Theatre. “But me and my wife, Gelila, when spring break comes…we’re gonna rent all the movies.”
Surely someone can hook him up with some screeners: The Austrian-born chef has been cooking for Hollywood royalty for decades. He opened famed restaurant Spago, on the Sunset Strip in 1982. He now has eight restaurants in the Los Angeles area and many more around the world.
“Some of the [stars] I know, like, forever. Madonna, I know her from when she married Sean Penn. You know it’s so funny because…Sean Penn and Charlize Theron — they had Charlize’s mother’s birthday at Spago [recently], and I said, ‘Oh, I remember when [Penn and Madonna] were like kids, you know.’ Charlize was barely born when Sean Penn married Madonna,” Puck says.
Wolfgang Puck displays chocolate covered Oscar statuettes at the food and décor preview of this year’s Governors Ball, the post-Oscar celebration.Photo: AFP/Getty Images
On Oscar night, Puck will spend the first hour of the party in the kitchen before heading out to mingle with some 1,500 guests. He’s serving about 30 dishes in a tapas format, allowing guests to nibble and mingle, alongside an elaborate dessert spread and plenty of Champagne.
Until a few years ago, the ball was a formal sit-down dinner, but that’s changed since Dawn Hudson became the CEO of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.
“She’s a little bit more open-minded, and she likes more of a party than some of the older people before [her],” says Puck.
After doing the event for decades — and hosting many of the guests in his restaurants — he knows certain celebs’ top requests for after-party fare.
“Bradley Cooper said already, ‘I want a potato with caviar.’”
There will be plenty of new items alongside old favorites on the Oscar-night menu — Puck estimates a 50-50 split.
Dishes making their debut include a chilled sweet-pea-soup shooter with black truffles, miniature lobster BLTs and a beet latke topped with duck pastrami.
And Puck will go off the menu, if need be. When Ang Lee won for Best Director in 2013 for “Life of Pi,” the chef asked the Taiwanese-born director if he’d like some home cooking. Lee replied yes, so Puck whipped up a steamed fish with ginger, scallions, garlic, chili and a little soy sauce. “He was very happy,” Puck recalls.
The old-timer admits that he won’t know everyone in attendance. “Some of the younger ones I wouldn’t even recognize,” he says.
But he has a plan to keep up with at least a couple of hot newcomers, by taking his wife to the movies.
Says the chef with a chuckle: “I think we’re gonna have to go see the ‘Fifty Shades of Grey.’”