Lobster, Caviar & Mac ‘n’ Cheese: Here’s What’s on the Oscars Governors Ball Menu
The best celebrations require the best food, and that’s why Chef Wolfgang Puck is back for the 22nd consecutive year to get the party started at the 2016 Oscars Governors Ball.
Celebrating the theme of vintage and contemporary Hollywood, Puck created more than 50 whimsical dishes for the official post-awards party menu with the help of his 350 person culinary gang.
The raw bar alone weighs in at 2,600 lbs. — holding 350 lbs. of troll-caught Atlantic Bigeye tuna, 20 whole wild-caught yellowtail, 1,000 stone crab claws, 7,500 individual shrimp, 300 Maine lobsters and 1,300 oysters.
And after years of exciting the taste buds of the stars, Puck sticks to his tried and true signatures like chicken pot pie, macaroni and cheese, short ribs with truffle polenta, and lobster — while adding some additions into the mix.
“We have some new things, too, like the Alaskan king crab this year with ginger and black beans, so there’s new and old stuff,” Puck tells PEOPLE. “We also have a whole array of vegetables, little ahi pokes, yellowtail sashimi, so something for everybody.”
And while Puck doesn’t usually plan themed dishes around the nominees, he says that there is one particular element to the feast this year that will be tied to a Best Picture nominee.
“You can see we got inspired by The Martian because we have a vegetable garden,” the chef says.
Puck’s feast is so good that it will keep many attendees coming back for more. “The best compliment is when someone comes into Spago a few days after and asks, ‘Hey, Wolfgang — do you still have the short ribs or the pot pie?'”
And just when the seams of the elegant gowns and classy tuxedos begin to bust, the chocolate buffet creeps up. Guests will satisfy their sweet tooth with many goodies, including a chocolate fountain (equipped with 5 gallons of homemade hot fudge), tiramisu push pops, a macaron tower and assorted chocolate bon bons, bars and barks, and champagne showers by Piper-Heidsieck.
Starting to plan your Oscar viewing party menu? Don’t forget to add in an actual dish or two from the ball—Puck’s Smoked Salmon Oscar Statues and Raspberry Panna Cotta with Lychee-Champagne Gelee (which the chef makes and pairs with Piper-Heidsieck champagne)! Get the full recipes below.
Smoked Salmon Oscar with Caviar on Brioche
1 loaf brioche bread, sliced
1 cup sour cream
1 tbsp. lemon juice
2 tbsp. minced shallots
1 tbsp. chopped fresh dill
1 lb. smoked salmon
2 oz. caviar
1. Cut the brioche into Oscar shape and toast until golden.
2. In a bowl, whisk together sour cream, lemon juice, shallots, and dill. Spoon small amount of dill cream on the toasts.
3. Layer smoked salmon on top and garnish with caviar.
Lychee Champagne Gelee:
1/2 oz. sheet gelatin
7 oz. champagne
7 oz. lychee puree
Raspberry Panna Cotta:
1/2 oz. sheet gelatin
21 oz. cream
1 cup granulated sugar
24 oz. raspberry puree
1. Make the Lychee Champagne Gelee: Put the gelatin sheet in a small bowl and add ice water to cover. Leave the gelatin until it blooms, turning soft and pliable, 5 to 10 minutes.
2. Put the champagne and lychee puree in a saucepan and warm, stirring, over medium-low heat.
3. When the gelatin has bloomed, gently lift it out and gently wring to remove excess water. Add the gelatin to the warm champagne-lychee mixture and stir until fully dissolved and blended in.
4. Spoon the mixture into individual small serving glasses or bowls to form a thin layer in their bottoms. Add a few raspberries to each glass. Place the glasses on a tray and refrigerate until set completely.
5. While the Lychee Champagne Gelee sets, prepare the Raspberry Panna Cotta: Put the gelatin sheet in a small bowl and add ice water to cover. Leave the gelatin until it blooms, turning soft and pliable, 5 to 10 minutes.
6. Put half of the cream and all of the sugar in a saucepan and cook, stirring, over medium heat until the sugar has completely dissolved. Gently squeeze excess water from the bloomed gelatin, add the gelatin to the pan, and stir until completely dissolved. Stir in the remaining cream and the raspberry puree.
7. Immediately place the bottom of the pan in a large mixing bowl filled with ice cubes and water and stir until the mixture feels cool to the touch. Spoon the Raspberry Panna Cotta mixture evenly over the Lychee Champagne Gelee in each glass and return to the refrigerator to cool until completely set, 2 to 4 hours, before serving.
Watch PEOPLE.com‘s Live from the Oscars Red Carpet show starting at 5:30 ET/2:30 PT on Feb. 28 — and the 88th Academy Awards at 7 ET/4 PT on ABC.