Making a meal of celebrity banquets
Feeding Hollywood’s elite takes months of careful thought and planning, writes SANDY COHEN
NOW THAT the award season has replaced the holiday season in Hollywood, buzz is building about best pictures, winning performances, designer gowns and, oh yes, “What’s for dinner?”
For your consideration: herbcrusted mozzarella and grilled eggplant salad, braised beef short ribs with artichoke sweet pepper ragout and sautéed sea bass with truffle endive fritto.
Dishing it for the A-listers attending Hollywood’s award banquets each year is no cakewalk. Meals must be distinct, elegant and appropriate for Tinseltown’s calorie-conscious ways.
Suki Sugiura, executive chef at the Beverly Hilton Hotel, starts planning the Golden Globes menu six months in advance.
He must simultaneously satisfy the appetites of Morgan Freeman, Helen Mirren, Glenn Close and Emily Blunt and nearly 1 300 other entertainment heavyweights attending the Globes ceremony – all while preparing an array of finger foods and other munchies for a halfdozen after-parties also held at the hotel on January 17.
Sugiura and his kitchen crew of more than 100 are prepared to work from 6am to well past midnight that day, ensuring every bite is just right.
A veteran of four Golden Globes dinners, he started dreaming up menu concepts last year. He presented various appetisers and entrees to the Hollywood Foreign Press Association, which puts on the Globes, and moved forward with their favourites.
This year’s menu centres on the bounty of California agriculture, Sugiura says. From the mozzarella-and-eggplant salad to the chocolate- glazed, mandarin-filled dessert, every ingredient comes from the Golden State. Even the edible envelope atop the dessert (which reads “The Golden Globe goes to”) is from a local chocolatier.
“This is a message from California,” he says. “We’re taking advantage of the fact that some of the finest ingredients in the US are right here in California.”
Also keeping with a California-cooking approach, Sugiura says he sticks to “a theme of cooking light”.
“There’s not so much butter. And cream? Forget it.”
Instead, fresh herbs and olive oil add flavour to the appetiser salad and the beef and sea bass entrée.
The Screen Actors Guild has already set the menu for its January 23 dinner-party awards show. Planning began months ago, and it was decided that the 1 050 actors in attendance would nibble on an antipasto plate of roasted winter vegetables with couscous, king salmon topped with a ginger-mint chutney, chopped chicken with endive and bacon, and lamb with a French feta salsa.
Menu planning is well under way for the Academy Awards Governors Ball, which isn’t until March 7.
Sugiura says it’s exciting to develop a menu for such glamorous functions. And even though movie stars are notoriously picky about their food, he says he rarely gets special requests: “I know what their tastes are because I’ve been doing this many years.” – Sapa-AP
STAR: British actress Emily Blunt, best actress nominee for her role in
The Young Victoria.
GLAMOUR: Helen Mirren is a Golden Globe nominee for her performance in The Last Station. PICTURE: REUTERS
STYLE: Glenn Close has been nominated for a best actress Golden Globe for her role in the TV series Damages. PICTURE:REUTERS
SMART: Morgan Freeman is the best actor nominee for his part as Nelson Mandela in the film Invictus. PICTURE: REUTERS