How Chef Wolfgang Puck prepares for the Academy Awards Governors Ball

HOLLYWOOD, CA - FEBRUARY 18: Master chef Wolfgang Puck (C) prepares samples from the menu for display during the 88th Annual Academy Awards Governors Ball press preview at The Ray Dolby Ballroom at Hollywood & Highland Center on February 18, 2016 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images)(Getty Images/Kevork Djansezian)

For Wolfgang Puck, catering the Academy Awards Governors Ball is a familiar walk in the park.

“This is not my first rodeo,” the Austrian-born chef and restaurateur told WTOP.

This should be no surprise because 2024 marks the 30th year that Wolfgang Puck Catering has worked at the Governors Ball — the annual party that is hosted after the Oscars.

Puck told WTOP that even before he got the chance to cater for the annual event, he hosted Oscar after-parties for a decade at his restaurant, Spago, alongside Irving Paul “Swifty” Lazar, whom he described as a “super agent.”

Talent agent Lazar is known for having represented several well-known stars, such as Madonna, Truman Capote, Joan Collins, Cher and Gene Kelly, among others. Two years after Lazar passed away in 1993, Puck catered the Governors Ball for the first time in 1995.

This year, there will be six buffets and a variety of appetizers to go around. The menu, which was created by Puck and chef Eric Klein with pastry design by Kamel Guechida and Garry Larduinat, includes luxe dishes, such as gold-dusted truffled popcorn, Korean steak tartare on puffed rice and desserts, such as an elderflower champagne parfait with a raspberry espuma.

According to Puck, though, one of the all-time favorite dishes that he serves is the chicken pot pie.

Puck told WTOP that he remembers Prince Albert of Monaco asking him when he was going to open a restaurant in Monaco with the prince recalling the chicken pot pie that was served at the Oscars.

“It’s really interesting how people remember the dishes,” Puck said.

Puck said that his team of chefs comes from all over the world — London, Istanbul, Los Angeles and beyond. There are approximately 600 servers and bartenders with a guest list that totals more 1,500.

With the long schedule of the day’s events, Puck said, “Everybody’s hungry” by the time the after-party starts, but “people never go home hungry.”

The stars are typically up early in the morning to get their hair, makeup and outfits ready before arriving for the preshow in the early afternoon, with the ceremony starting around 5 p.m. PST. This year, however, the Academy Awards will start an hour earlier on Sunday, March 10, at 4 p.m. PST and 7 p.m. EST.

Earlier this year, Puck and his son, Byron, sat down with WTOP to discuss his family legacy and the potential for new restaurants. Learn more about how he has been a mainstay of D.C.’s food culture for several years now and his expanding interest in it.

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Michelle Goldchain

Michelle Goldchain’s reporting has focused primarily on the D.C. area, previously working as Editor of Curbed DC for Vox Media and Audience Growth & Engagement Editor for Washington City Paper. She is the author of “D.C. by Metro: A History & Guide.” She also reports for 'Artsplained' on YouTube.

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