Prime Dining: What The Stars Feast On, Post-Oscars

ONCE all the golden statuettes have been won, the guests at the Academy Awards head for the part of the night they really look forward to the post-Oscars Governors Ball. The dinner party, now in its 65th year, is known for the lavish spread that now costs each of its celebrity attendees about $1,500. The Ball has come a long way since its early days: for the past 29 years, celebrity chef Wolfgang Puck has been in charge of overseeing this most important of Hollywood dinners. 

Unofficially, Puck has been catering the post-Oscars dinner for longer. His flagship restaurant Spago was where the renowned agent Irving Lazar would throw his celebratory bashes; the night's most glamorous stars preferred to make a beeline for this shindig rather than the Governors Ball that had come to be perceived as rather staid by the '80s. All that changed when Puck was invited to oversee the post-Academy Awards dinner and took on the chef's mantle in 1995. 

Since then, every successive Governors Ball dinner menu has surpassed its predecessor, with the 2023 edition featuring a chic twist on classic British comfort food like fish and chips, Beef Wellington, Oscar staple chicken pot pie (topped with a heady truffle layer), and a sherry-soaked trifle for dessert. These dishes barely scratch the surface of the menu though, which has plenty of vegan options (confit golden beet, cashew crème, puri pillow with sumac hummus, English pea falafel) and encompasses the diversity of the 2023 Oscar nominees' list with Asian-style fried chicken with pandan leaf-coconut waffles, Chinese-spiced Hunan eggplant over rice, made-to-order rice bars, bagel macarons with smoked salmon and sorrel etc.

The post-Oscars dinner over the year has featured such entries as:

Half-broiled chicken on toast, string beans, French fries, fillets of sole sautéed in butter and cake served with vanilla or chocolate ice cream (1929)

Tomato bouillon with melba toasts and stuffed, boneless squab chicken with string beans and potatoes Parisienne (1942)

Shrimp and crab legs in a light cream sauce, contre filet 'Cordon Bleu' with sauce bordelaise, fonds d’artichauts clamart, petit pois and pommes Champs Elysées, and an ice cream bombe with chocolate sauce (1970)

Salmon and Alaskan king crab garnished with Russian beluga caviar, grilled lobster tail with matchstick potatoes and artichoke hearts florentine (1978)

Veal en croûte with asparagus, carrots and mushrooms, a chocolate dessert and raspberry mousse (1987)

And the very last dinner before Puck took on the mantle: Grilled lamb tenderloin with potato crisps, raspberry salsa and grilled courgette with herbed goats' cheese, homemade chicken sausage with pepper diamonds and jalapeño jelly (1994)

Puck began his official stint with a splash, serving up lamb chops, roasted salmon, four cheese pizza with sun-dried tomatoes, duck sausage pizza and potato galette with smoked sturgeon. He followed it up with ever-elaborate meals, including roasted new potatoes in gold leaf with caviar for 1999's event. The diners could also request off-the-menu dishes. At the 88th and 89th Academy Awards dinners, Puck's team included a whole chocolate buffet, featuring no fewer than 20 items. This is of course not inclusive of the desserts that are also served.

More than 115 chefs from Puck's company come together to work for the post-Oscars Governor Ball dinner. Puck's staff have also take memorable requests from their illustrious guests: a special pasta for Martin Scorsese and a whole steamed fish with ginger, scallion and bok choy for Ang Lee. The final treat of the night? A chocolate reproduction of the Oscars statuette, covered in gold foil, for all of the attendees.