Every year for the past 22 years, Wolfgang Puck has prepared a rich, diverse menu for the Governors Ball, the official Oscars after-party, where Hollywood’s finest get to stuff their faces.
The menu traditionally has both savoury and sweet dishes and includes comfort food like macaroni and cheese and chicken pot pie, a sushi and sashimi station and even comparatively plebeian fare like pizzas and mini burgers.
In total, the stars will have over 60 savoury selections and nearly 30 different kinds of desserts to munch on!
If you’re planning on watching the Academy Awards live on Feb 29, you might want to really get into the spirit of things and eat like the stars too.
Of course, you won’t be able to prepare quite as many dishes on your own (unless Superman is at your disposal) but we’ve selected and adapted a couple of recipes on the menu that are surprisingly easy to pull off.
“It’s very easy to make and the ingredients aren’t difficult to find either in gourmet supermarkets,” said Jean Michel Fraisse, the director of the French Culinary School in Asia tasked with the job.
Fraisse adapted some of Puck’s recipes just to make them more accessible for Malaysians, choosing Oscar favourites like macaroni and cheese (John Travolta’s favourite), Chinois wonton salad, mini wagyu burgers and baked potato with caviar (Jennifer Lawrence described Puck’s original as the “best thing she’s ever eaten in her life”).
For the macaroni and cheese, which Puck makes with shaved black truffles, Fraisse made a version that he thinks is actually – gasp! – better than Puck’s.
“Basically, we didn’t use truffle because fresh truffle is expensive and hard to find. You can use a good truffle paste which is more economical and which you can find at a good local grocer.” Puck’s recipe also has leeks and smoked chicken.
The Chinese chicken wonton salad has been given a Malaysian facelift, with the inclusion of local herbs like ulam raja and daun selom; while the Iranian Osetra caviar (one of the most prized caviars in the world) in the baked potato has been replaced with lump caviar, which is much easier to source for ordinary folk with little spare cash to throw around.
For the mini wagyu burgers, Fraisse says you can easily find wagyu in gourmet supermarkets now, but don’t necessarily need to make the burgers with wagyu.
“A good striploin – grass fed or grain fed – will do and it will be as good as the wagyu,” he said.
Best of all, Fraisse says most of the elements for these dishes can be made in advance, so there will be minimal fretting and very little need to stand guard over a hot stove as you’re watching the Oscars.
“You can prepare your patties and your sauce for the burger in advance. You can prepare the salad earlier too as just the tossing can be done a la minute. If you really want to, you can even bake the potatoes earlier and microwave them when you need to,” he said.
The best part about eating your freshly-prepared food while watching the Oscars? Knowing that you’re one step ahead of the most famous stars in the world, who have to wait a full three hours before they get fed, while you’re already chomping down on some of Wolfgang Puck’s finest.
MINI PRIME BURGERS WITH REMOULADE AND AGED CHEDDAR
For the brioche bread
250g bread flour
30g caster sugar
8g instant dried yeast
1 egg for egg wash
sesame seeds, for sprinkling
For the beef patties
640g wagyu beef (cube roll or striploin), can be replaced with grass-fed or grain-fed beef
9g fine sea salt or to taste
4g freshly ground black pepper or to taste
For the remoulade sauce
2 tbsp olive oil
1 red capsicum, chopped
1 yellow capsicum, chopped
2 large onions, chopped finely
3 garlic cloves, chopped
2 sprigs fresh rosemary, chopped
400g UHT cream
1 tbsp sweet paprika
salt and pepper to taste
For the garnishing
4 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
16 small slices aged cheddar cheese (around 15g each)
rocket leaves to taste
8 cherry tomatoes, halved
8 cornichons (small pickled gherkins), sliced lengthwise
To prepare brioche
Place all the dough ingredients except salt in an electric mixing bowl. Mix on low speed for 3 to 4 minutes using dough hook. Add salt and mix on higher speed for 5 minutes.
Transfer to a mixing bowl, cling wrap and set aside to rest for 30 minutes.
After that, punch the dough until there are no bubbles. Put back in the mixing bowl, cling wrap and keep overnight in the refrigerator.
In the morning, divide the dough into 16 pieces, 35g each.
Shape into balls and transfer to a baking tray lined with baking paper or silicone mat.
Cling wrap and leave to prove for at least 1 hour at room temperature or until it rises and doubles in size.
Pre-heat oven to 180°C. Brush dough with egg wash and sprinkle with sesame seeds. Cook for around 20 minutes in oven until golden brown. Cool on wire rack and keep refrigerated or frozen if you want to keep for several days.
To prepare the patties
Combine all the ingredients and mould into 16 patties, 40g each.
To prepare the remoulade (can be prepared 1 day earlier)
In a sauté pan, heat up olive oil over low heat and cook capsicum until soft. Add in onion and cook until translucent.
Add in garlic and rosemary and cook for another 2 minutes.
Pour in the cream, season to taste with paprika, salt and pepper and simmer for 5 minutes or until thick.
Transfer to a bowl, cling wrap and refrigerate.
To assemble the burger
Heat up a heavy bottomed frying pan or grill over high heat. Reduce to medium heat.
Cook patties for 2 to 3 minutes and turn. Place the cheese on top and cook for 2 to 3 minutes. Take out from the pan and set aside on a plate.
Cut brioche into halves and toast. Spread remoulade onto the brioche base and top with patties. Arrange cornichon, tomato and rocket leaves on top and cover with the other half of the brioche. Poke a bamboo pick through the middle to hold the burger together. Serve immediately.
JACKET BABY POTATOES WITH CRÈME FRAÎCHE AND CAVIAR
12 small new potatoes, washed and wrapped with aluminium foil
200g cold crème fraîche
1 jar black lumpfish roe
chives or spring onions, chopped
pink peppercorns, crushed (optional)
Preheat the oven to 150°C. Place the potatoes in a baking tray and bake for 45 minutes or until soft.
Leave to cool for 15 minutes. (You can make this ahead and warm the potatoes in the oven before topping.)
With a small knife, cut the top of the potato like a cross, remove the foil and press the potato gently to open it up.
Top with a teaspoon of crème fraiche and caviar.
Garnish with chives and pink peppercorns.
Serve immediately as the crème fraîche will melt into the potato very quickly.
TRUFFLE AND COMTÉ CHEESE MACARONI
Serves 10 to 12
200g raw macaroni or elbow pasta, cooked according to packet instructions
For the béchamel
15g all-purpose flour
100ml UHT cream
salt, pepper and nutmeg to taste
1 egg yolk
For the garnishing
150g leek, sliced
150g Comte cheese or Emmental, grated
150g ready-made smoked chicken, shredded
2-3 tbsp truffle paste (available at a good grocer)
4 tbsp breadcrumbs
To prepare the béchamel
In a sauté pan, melt butter over low heat. Add in flour and cook for 5 minutes or until the mixture turns white.
Add in milk and cream and bring to a boil, stirring. Season to taste. Remove from heat and stir in egg yolk.
To cook the leek
In a skillet, melt butter over medium heat and cook leek until soft. Remove from heat and set aside.
To bake the pasta
Pre-heat oven to 190°C. Combine béchamel with the leek, half of the cheese, chicken, truffle paste and cooked pasta. Mix well.
Transfer to buttered oven-proof individual ramekins.
Sprinkle with remaining cheese and breadcrumbs and cook in the oven for 15 to 20 minutes or until crust is golden brown.
CHINOIS CRISPY WONTON SALAD
Serves 8 to 10
For the dressing
1 egg yolk
salt and pepper to taste
2 tbsp rice vinegar
2 tsp mustard powder or 1 tbsp Dijon mustard
3 tbsp corn oil (or canola, sunflower, olive oil)
2 tbsp light sesame oil
1 1/2 tbsp honey
1 tsp soy sauce
For the salad
2 chicken breasts with skin
salt and pepper to taste
oil for sautéing
200g white cabbage, shredded
1 head Romaine lettuce
200g radicchio or red cabbage, shredded
10 square wonton wrappers, cut into 1cm strips, deep-fried until golden
150g roasted peanuts, chopped
1 bunch coriander sprigs
*For a more distinct Malaysian flavour, add local herbs such as Thai basil, sawtooth coriander, ulam raja, daun selom, mint, red chilli and toasted sesame seeds to taste
To prepare the dressing
In a mixing bowl, combine egg yolk, salt, pepper, vinegar and mustard and whisk until well combined.
Gradually whisk in corn oil and sesame oil. Finally, whisk in honey and soy sauce and set aside.
To prepare the salad
Season chicken breast with salt and pepper to taste.
Heat up a frying pan, add oil over medium heat and sear the chicken breast skin down until golden brown (around 3 minutes).
Turn over and cook the other side – or as Wolfgang Puck does it, finish cooking in a preheated 190°C oven for 15 minutes.
Set aside to cool and then shred or chop coarsely.
Combine chicken, cabbage, lettuce and radicchio in a mixing bowl.
Add in dressing and toss well. Arrange on a serving plate.
Top with fried wonton, peanut, coriander and Malaysian herbs if using. Serve with lime wedges.