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Red Carpet Cocktail Courtesy of Justine Sterling
On Sunday, star chef Daniel Boulud is hosting the only official East Coast Oscar party with the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences at his flagship restaurant, Daniel. The evening mirrors the West Coast’s most glamorous Oscars event, the Governors Ball, which Wolfgang Puck has overseen for the past 19 years. “I always envy Wolfgang Puck in Los Angeles, so I am very proud to be doing my share in New York,” says Boulud.
While Boulud might make it to Hollywood one day—spot his cameo in the in the film Final Recipe this spring—he’s going all-out for the Academy in New York. Boulud created nominee-inspired dishes, like the Life of Pi tiger shrimp samosas, as well as sparkling Red Carpet cocktails with a vibrant base layer of cranberry gelée, and a three-course dinner. Here, he offers tips for adapting his megawatt viewing party at home.
1. Go all-out on the drinks. “A good cocktail opens up the night,” Boulud says. His showstopping Red Carpet cocktail features a large spherical ice cube with a mini image of an Oscar statuette frozen inside. “It’s important to use filtered water or spring water because it becomes very translucent when it’s frozen,” Boulud explains. He achieves the “red carpet” with a Jell-O–like layer at the bottom of the glass, made with cranberry juice, grenadine and agar (though gelatin also works). The gelée is topped with pear-infused vodka, St. Germain and Champagne.
2. Have fun with the menu, but keep it simple. “We tried to capture the soul of the movies,” Boulud says of the six nominee-themed canapés he created for the party. For the home cook, Boulud suggests concentrating on one or two appetizers. His smoked sturgeon-stuffed potato, inspired by the Danish movie, A Royal Affair, is relatively easy to make. “You just need to buy smoked fish, boil small potatoes, scoop them out and then stuff them,” Boulud says. “We put a little bit of aquavit gelée on them, but you can put fish eggs or caviar on them or crème fraîche and a little bit of herbs.” Even simpler is Boulud’s dish for Les Misérables, which he calls “pain surprise”: These are French-style tea sandwiches. He thinly slices bread, and then tops the slices with smoked trout, dry sausage, ham and cheese, or blue cheese with toasted walnuts.
3. Miniaturize. “It’s so informal to watch the Oscars. You want something you can put on a small plate and sit down on the sofa and eat.” Stay away from anything that requires two utensils. Better yet, serve finger foods. Boulud likes charcuterie, cheese, fruit and vegetables. “Any kind of flatbread is great. Even if you just take a slice of bread, put some stuff on it and bake it in the oven, it’s always good,” Boulud says.
4. Don’t get drunk. “Nobody should be smashed,” Boulud says. “The best is to drink Champagne and not too much hard booze. A welcome cocktail is good, but after that stick to wine or Champagne. But no red wine, because people bump into things.”
5. Unless you’re playing an Oscar night drinking game with Eric Ripert. “For a drinking game I’ll do tequila, especially if I’m with Eric Ripert,” Boulud says. “He likes his tequila.”