Oscars 2012: Let Them Eat Gold

Wolfgang serves up a golden opportunity.

Watching the Oscars is kind of like watching the Superbowl for me–I usually don’t keep track of the major players throughout the year, so I’m not really that invested in who wins and who doesn’t. But I might tune in if I’m with friends and there’s food and alcohol involved. Especially if there’s alcohol. (I also enjoy praising/jeering actresses’ red-carpet sartorial choices, but that doesn’t really fit into the whole Superbowl metaphor.)

This year’s Oscars was all right, I guess, but it got to be more fun with each glass of cava I downed with my friend AJ. But what I REALLY would have liked to see was what Wolfgang Puck was going to serve at the Governors Ball.

“You can almost call it Wolfgang’s greatest hits over 30 years,” Puck said in a recent Reuters report.  “This is the perfect menu because there’s something for everybody.”

Indeed. Among the more interesting menu selections:

Pork belly dumplings with soy and ginger

Lobster taco with tomato and pickled shallots

Chicken pot pie with shaved black truffles and roasted vegetables

Shanghai lobster with coconut curry, jasmine rice and pickled ginger

Chinois lamb with cilantro-mint vinaigrette

Earl Grey tea truffles

Chocolate-dipped Pop Rock cakes

And, of course, the traditional 24-karat chocolate Oscars and the smoked salmon on Oscar-shaped flatbread with caviar and crème fraîche. Yum!

Here’s the shopping list for the entire menu, which comprised more than 50 small plates, main courses and desserts:

  • 1,300 farmed oysters
  • 5 kilos of American farm-raised caviar
  • 1,450 pounds Maine lobster
  • 7,500 U.S. shrimp
  • 30 gallons cocktail sauce
  • 1,250 stone crab claws
  • 10 pounds of black winter truffles
  • 20,000 pieces of California-grown micro greens
  • 6,000 pieces of mini brioche buns
  • 5,000 cage-free eggs
  • 200 quarts heavy cream and 200 quarts milk
  • 800 pounds L’Etoile du Nord bittersweet chocolate
  • 25 pounds edible gold dust

What really caught my eye, though, was the 25 pounds of gold dust, which brought to mind Billy Crystal’s one-liner early in the broadcast: “Nothing takes the sting out of a recession like watching millionaires present each other with gold statues.”

In the course of my research on what Chef Puck served after the Oscars, I came across some coverage highlighting some criticism from Joel Berg, a food poverty campaigner with the New York City Coalition Against Hunger, regarding the use of real gold in dishes served after the Golden Globes. He pointed out the irony of giving rich Hollywood types expensive, extravagant food for free while people stricken by the severe recession were struggling to get a decent meal, which, okay, yeah, I get. It’s a Marie Antoinette-like situation, and someone’s head might have to metaphorically roll for it.

Of course, that didn’t stop Puck, ever the pro, to deliver a sumptuous meal while also tempering the extravagance with social consciousness. Apparently, all the ingredients, with the exception of a few items, such as the lobster, were locally sourced, and all the leftovers were  donated to a local homeless shelter.

Still. What do you think? Is real gold a little much, especially at more than $135 per gram? Is it necessary to dust it on desserts served to celebrities after awards shows, especially during a recession?

I don’t have any answers. All I know is that, contrary to what the tabloids tell us, celebrities are NOT like us. After all, no one I know poops pure gold.

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