Vegan pizza, smoked salmon Oscars on offer at post-Oscars ball

LOS ANGELES Tue Jan 22, 2013 6:24pm EST

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Hollywood's elite will chow down on vegan pizza and kale salad in addition to the traditional smoked salmon Oscars at the annual Governor's Ball after next month's Academy Awards ceremony, celebrity chef Wolfgang Puck announced on Tuesday.

Unveiling his menu for the year's biggest movie party, Puck said chicken pot pie with shaved black truffles, mini Kobe burgers, Japanese baby peach salad, steamed red snapper with Thai spice, Tuna Nicoise and his signature gold-dusted mini-chocolate Oscars also would be served.

Some 1,500 guests are expected at the ball immediately after the February 24 Oscars ceremony, including nominees such as George Clooney, Steven Spielberg, Jennifer Lawrence and Jessica Chastain.

Puck's menu could be the first chance for many of the attendees to eat since breakfast, as nominees and presenters stave off food in order to squeeze in to fitted gowns and tuxedos for the televised red carpet arrivals and ceremony.

"Nobody eats lunch that day, so by nine o'clock, anybody who would be on a diet is no longer on that diet," Puck said.

With Oscar-nominated films ranging from dramas to comedies and musicals, guests at the ball - the Academy's official celebration - will be dining on dishes just as varied.

"We have so many great nominated movies from 'Argo' to 'Les Miserables' to 'Silver Linings Playbook," Puck told Reuters. "It's a really great year for movies with lots of variety, so we are going to serve a variety of dishes."

Puck, who this year is marking his 19th year catering the ball, and chef Matt Bencivenga will serve over 50 dishes from hors d' oeuvres and entrees that will be served on small plates throughout the evening.

Gastronomical items will include Chinese, French, Italian dishes and others from Puck's many Los Angeles eateries.

The master chef told Reuters there will also be a strong focus this year on vegan dishes, including pizza, kale salad with grilled artichoke, and a beet salad with spiced walnut among others.

"If they don't find something to eat (among our dishes) then they are really finicky," joked Puck.

About 300 of Puck's staff will be in the kitchen and 650 on the dining room floor, which will be laid out with small tables and booths to create a party atmosphere rather than a black tie dinner, according to Puck.

Completing the setting will be a 120-foot (37-meter)chandelier hanging from the ceiling and an 18-foot (5.5-meter) golden Oscar as the centerpiece of the ballroom floor.

Puck said food preparation will start a few days before the event with the making of dishes like smoked salmon and tortellini, but "we cook everything as if we were cooking for an intimate party of 25 - everything at the last moment."

By midnight, Puck said the festivities would be pretty much over as attendees moved to other parties. That's when he'll get his first opportunity of the day to relax "and hang with a few people I know, and we sit around and have some good wine."

(Reporting By Zorianna Kit; Editing by Jill Serjeant and Paul Simao)

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