2014 is a big year for Wolfgang Puck; it marks the Austrian chef’s 20th anniversary OF preparing the menu for the official post-Academy Awards party, the Governors Ball. This year, he promises that he popped a bottle of bubbly after the nature-themed gala for 1500 of Hollywood’s most influential actors, directors, producers and creators went off without a hitch. The superstar chef sat down with Haute Living to dish on his inspiration for the commemorative occasion, what changes he made to this year’s menu and which American Hustle star he was most excited to party with on Oscar night.
What was your inspiration for this year’s menu?
This year’s inspiration was really our 20th anniversary, so we thought, ‘Let’s do some of the dishes which are the most successful and the most popular over the last 20 years.’
Can you break down how you prepare for an event of this magnitude?
We had a great team of chefs like Matt Bencivenaga, and pastry chefs Justin Lemonnier, Kamel Guechida, Della Gosset and Romain Lenoir. They’ve all been with me for many years. Once we decide what to cook, Matt organizes the troops and says, ‘You guys are going to do the appetizers, and you guys are going do the fish, you guys are going to do the pasta’ and so on. It’s really an organized operation. It’s like running the military; everything has to be precise.
This was your 20th year preparing the Governors Ball menu. How do you celebrate such an event?
Maybe I’m going to order a bottle of wine from 20 years ago! I think that would be a good beginning.
What on the menu were you most excited for attendees to try and why?
I always love black truffles as well as the potato with caviar, and the risotto is always exciting. [I was most excited for the guests to try] some of our vegan dishes, because a lot of people think ‘If you’re going to do something vegan or vegetarian, it’s always boring,’ but we really have some exciting salads and pasta dishes and so on.
Do you receive any special requests from attendees?
If someone wants a special request, they ask me. We almost have everything. If somebody wants a fish simply grilled, we can make it. If somebody says, ‘You know, I want pasta with just tomato, basil, and garlic,’ we can make it. So we can make almost anything.
Who were you most looking forward to seeing at the Ball?
[I was excited] to see some old faces and new faces because I know Martin Scorsese really well, as well as John Travolta and Leonardo DiCaprio and new faces like Bradley Cooper. I didn’t know Bradley Cooper , but then I did a TV show with him [The Late Show with Craig Ferguson], and the girls said, ‘Oh, you’re going to be on with Bradley Cooper!’ And I said, ‘Who is Bradley Cooper?’ And then I had to take a picture with him, and they got so excited. They said, ‘Oh, my god, [he is] the most handsome guy!’