István Szántó, the head chef of Spago restaurant in Budapest, had the chance to present some iconic Hungarian dishes at the Oscars Governors Ball, in Los Angeles on Sunday.
Since 1995, Austrian-born chef Wolfgang Puck, owner of the international restaurant chain Spago, has been responsible for creating the menu that is served to celebrities and VIP guests at the post-Oscars party called the Oscars Governors Ball. Every year, he has more than a hundred chefs working under his watchful eye to ensure that everything at the reception is perfect.
In addition to the usual Wolfgang Puck signature dishes, traditional Hungarian cuisine was also served at the event for the first time this year, according to the Spago restaurant in Budapest.
Puck and Szántó said hello from the gala while preparing the dishes:
I thought of dishes that are emblematic of Hungarian cuisine. In the end, chicken paprikash, hunters’ stew, Eszterházy torte and Hungarian trifle were the winners,”
Before the gala, István Szántó explained his decision on what to include in the menu. He added:
I knew there were a lot of security and logistical aspects to consider. Have ingredients for the food on site. You need to make these dishes easy to eat, in small portions, with an aesthetic presentation, and in amazing quantities. We will prepare 800 servings of the wild game and 350-350 servings of the other dishes. Although it is a catering service, the solemnity and elegance are essential for the awards ceremony.”
The ingredients were sourced from the famous Santa Monica farmers’ market, but Szántó brought real Hungarian paprika from his home country.
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Here is how the three Hungarian dishes were served:
The Hunter’s beef (vadas) was made from wagyu beef and was served with ricotta-stuffed dumplings and mustard sauce. This way, a traditional dish from Puck’s native country, Austria, has been incorporated into the meal as well.
Chicken paprikash (csirke paprikás) prepared in the traditional way was wrapped in dough, so the end result resembled a spring roll when served. It was topped with paprika sauce.
- The Hungarian trifle (somlói galuska) was be presented as golden bonbons in the shape of walnuts, while the Eszterházy torte (Eszterházy torta, which is a type of cake) was based on a traditional recipe and presented in the most traditional way.
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Before the ball, Puck said that “The party following the biggest awards ceremony in the film world is the most important social event on the West Coast, where food, fashion, culture, film, and music come together.
I’m proud to have the head chef of my first Spago restaurant in Europe with me, as he will be able to showcase a special world, Hungarian culture. When I tasted Istvan’s version of the hunter’s beef, I simply fell in love. And I’m sure the stars will do the same.”
Szántó is not the only Hungarian whose work was recognized at the 2022 Oscars: Hungarian set decorator Zsuzsanna Sipos won an award for her work in Dune.
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Featured image: Sweets for the Governors Ball after the 89th Academy Awards ceremony at the event’s press conference in Los Angeles on February 16, 2017, ten days before the Oscars. Photo by Mike Nelson/MTI/EPA