Mak­ing a meal of celebrity ban­quets

Feed­ing Hol­ly­wood’s elite takes months of care­ful thought and plan­ning, writes SANDY CO­HEN

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - LIFE -

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

PIC­TURE: 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

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