The best free party and display of fashion pageantry in the world just ended. Yes, I'm talking about the Annual Academy awards. The show was broadcast worldwide on Sunday, March 7th. This year's Governors Ball was be infused with the retro style of Hollywood Art Nouveau. The Ball had a style design reminiscent of the late 1930s "Streamline Moderne" with a contemporary edge. The staging drew inspiration from artists such as Paul Williams, whose Saks Fifth Avenue ceiling treatments revolutionized the use of indirect lighting, and Dorothy Draper, whose unique curve design became influential in hotel décor. Here's a sketch for the design of the Governor's Ball.
A preview of the 1930s style set for the Governor's Ball.
Here in Los Angeles, the preparations behind the scenes were staggering. Some of the best party planners and chefs in the world planned the Governor's Ball (the official after party.)
The sketch comes to life for the Oscar after party, the Governor's Ball. (Photo: M. Hall, from inside the Governor's Ball preview party)
Recently, I was fortunate enough to have the opportunity to talk to some of the superstars behind the annual ball to find out how they put on this extravaganza and how you can take the elegance of the Oscars and incorporate it into your home party. Award-winning chef Wolfgang Puck, pastry chef Sherry Yard and event producer and party planner Cheryl Cecchetto shared their expert tips and special recipes with me so that viewers at home can treat themselves to a special Oscar event.
Of course the magic ingredients for any Oscar event are fun and a love for the movies. The host of the festivities can set the tone for the event by incorporating the elements of the nominated films into the party. According to Cheryl Cecchetto, "Help guest feel more engaged in the party by encouraging them to watch as many of this year's Oscar nominated movies ahead of the party and arrive one hour before the telecast to partake in all the festivities. It is also important to set the tone and mood for the evening by using florals, table top glitz and glam and playing soundtracks from this years Oscar nominated pictures. Champagne is a must for any celebratory event so remember to have cocktails and signature drinks available (have a non-alcoholic beverage available as well. Everyone is more involved if there is a prize; use Oscar ballots to have your guests vote on what film will win in each category. " Did you know that the Academy provides an at home Oscar Party kit with ballots, games and recipes for your use? Click here to get the recipes and party kit courtesy of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.
Part of the grandeur and beauty that was created for the Oscars after party was the gorgeous floral centerpieces that will be on every table at the Governor's Ball. Oscar Party planner extraordinaire Cheryl Cecchetto tells me, "This year's Governors Ball will be accentuated by elegant florals such as purple Lizzy-Anthus, Rothschild Orchids, aubergine rust Calla Lilies, and Clearwater Roses, to name a few." Check out the stunning color combinations in the picture below. You can do the same thing at home by making "floating floral arrangements" with fresh flowers from your local market. Simply, snip off the steams, and place the flower tops in water in elegant, small vases.
Oscar floral arrangements set an elegant tone. (Photo: M. Hall, from inside the Governor's Ball)
But there's more to the perfect party than just pretty flowers and a movie theme. You need to serve your guests something delicious for dinner, and something sweet for a special dessert. And most of us want to have those recipes be simple and easy on the budget. After all, you want to be able to enjoy your own party. Chef Wolfgang Puck always cooks for the ball and prepares his special recipes. I asked him if he has any special recipes for chefs at home for an easy Oscar party dish. "I'm serving a variation of my Chicken Pot Pie at the Governors Ball. It's easy for the home cook and rather inexpensive too," says master chef Puck with a grin. "You can substitute the puff pastry with some home-made pie crust or store-bought pie crust. The great thing about it is you can assemble it the day ahead, put it in the refrigerator, then bake it when you're ready to eat it." Click here to get the recipe for Wolfgang's delicious and easy to prepare pot pie.
Sherry Yard's sinful chocolate dessert was topped with an Oscar. You can make it at home without the Oscar to enjoy year round.
Wolfgang's cooking co-host for the Governor's Ball is Spago executive pastry chef Sherry Yard. She prepared everything from her sinful molten chocolate lava cakes to pastries topped with little Oscar replicas. One of her easy tips for entertaining at home is to make a great chocolate dipping sauce for fresh fruit (think Strawberries), pretzels or even store bought cookies. This "semi-homemade" approach is a great way to produce a delicious, easy treat. If you don't want to take the easy route, and have the time, check out the recipe for Sherry's famous molten chocolate cake.
So arm yourself with some great flowers, a little bubbly, some yummy recipes and spread that Oscar stardust around. Walking down Hollywood Boulevard last week, I felt the magic in the air. I asked Cheryl Cecchetto if she has any special Oscar memories of the Governor's Balls. She says, " I particularly loved the 75th -- Celebrating history. Researching the first Governors Ball in 1929 at the Roosevelt Hotel for 240 guests. We incorporated so many memories over time. The entire ballroom was dressed in black and white. "
The Kodak theater looked amazing last weekend. If they could, I think the ghosts from the old Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel, scene of the first Academy Awards dinner, would've meandered across the street to try the heavenly food, sit at Wolfgang Puck's table and talk quietly over the soft candlelight and the Calla Lilies. Meantime, I was doing the same thing at home, with my well filled glass of champagne, just waiting to hear the words...."And the Oscar goes to......" I'll be enjoying the Oscar party tips and recipes at home, long after the Academy Awards have been given out.