Massive awards dinner a piece of cake, says Oscars chef Puck
By Barbara Fairchild
(Reuters) - Wolfgang Puck may be the world's best-known celebrity chef — he certainly was one of the first in the U.S. — and at 63, he is busier than ever. Puck oversees a global empire of restaurants (including his flagship, Spago, in Beverly Hills), popular lines of canned and frozen food, and his designer cookware, all balanced with television and radio appearances and seemingly nonstop travel. As he recently told the New York Times, "Why stop? What would you do at home?"
There is even more on his plate: For the past 17 years, Puck has also been the executive chef of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences' annual after-Oscar Governor's Ball, probably the ultimate Hollywood party. The next dinner, on February 24, will once again be at the Hollywood & Highland Center, in the ballroom of the former Kodak Theater, now the Dolby Theater.
So what's the secret to cooking for George Clooney, Angie and Brad, and hundreds of other Academy members? We caught up with the superstar chef in Los Angeles, on his cell phone in his car on his way to yet another meeting.
Q: How many guests are we talking about for this party?
A: There are about 3,500 people who attend the Awards, and we have a little less than half — 1,600 — at the actual dinner. It's by invitation only.
Q: Organizing it strikes us as something like a military operation. Do you start planning the next one as soon as you finish the one on Oscar night?
A: Not at all. I do everything at the last moment. That's my favorite thing.
Q: So that keeps the menu up to date. But don't you have to finalize it ahead at some point? Continued...