How to eat like an Oscar-winner this March
When Elliott Grover became executive chef at CUT – the super-high-end steakhouse at Dorchester Collection’s 45 Park Lane – he discovered that his boss Wolfgang Puck has been catering the world’s most star-studded events for three decades. At this year’s Academy Awards, Grover will be joining Puck in Hollywood, creating three dishes to feed a room of the most famous people on earth. You can taste the menu for yourself if you’re visiting London this month…
I took the job at CUT nine months ago and travelled to the USA in my first month for some training. There, I found out that Wolfgang has been doing the Oscars menu for the last 30 years. He had all these amazing stories of cooking for the stars and bringing chefs there from all around the world. I asked him if I could come to the Oscars this year, and he said yes.
Wolfgang is all about allowing chefs to experiment with traditional dishes from home, while keeping everything to the same high standard. For my contribution to the Oscars menu, I wanted to keep it as British as possible.
Cooking at the Oscars will be the highlight of my career so far. The planning for my three dishes started in November last year. Wolfgang asked me to do 400 portions of a dish that could be made within an hour. So it couldn’t be too intricate or difficult. I suggested fish and chips in a cone – delicious! A goujon of cod with three triple-cooked chips and pea purée. It sounds simple, but it’s easy to mess up, if the batter is wrong and the chips are soggy. It’s all got to be spot on. After that, we added a chicken pot pie and a trifle for dessert – but the pie has been on the Oscars menu for ages.
I’ll be there on the night, doing the prep for those three dishes and hoping to meet a few celebs. I’ll try not to be too starstruck, so I can focus on the food. It’s a privilege to be there, even to make just one dish, so three or four is amazing. There will be about 50 dishes in total to cater to about 1,000 guests, with a mixture of canapés, bowl food, sushi and desserts. All the celebrities tell Wolfgang that the food at the Oscars is the best out of all the big award ceremonies.
Cooking for the stars is no different from cooking for anybody else. I keep the same standards for everybody because that’s what people deserve. You can make it more luxurious, with caviar and truffles, but some just people like a boiled egg and soldiers. The only thing is that you can’t serve messy food at an awards ceremony. It has to be easy to eat and accessible, almost a three-bite thing.
California is really inspirational. The bounty there is incredible. I’m a bit biased, but one of my favourite places to eat there is Spago in LA, which is Wolfgang’s restaurant on Rodeo Drive. He does a mixture of his Austrian dishes, French dishes and Californian food, all of it staying sympathetic to LA. I also love Merois by a chef called Tetsu, at the Pendry hotel in Hollywood. It’s a rooftop restaurant outside, serving the best of California produce.
If you’re in London this month, come to BAR 45 at 45 Park Lane and ask for the Oscars experience. You’ll get the Golden Nights cocktail – it’s like a spritz, made with Champagne and rum. Then you’ll have the fish and chip cone and the chicken pot pie. It’s covered in truffle shavings and all souffléd up, so when you cut into it the aroma comes steaming out. It’s lovely. Then the trifle rounds off the UK version of the Oscars.
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