By Michael O'Connell Posted March 1, 2010, 11:21 AM EST
The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences probably wasn't considering its New York chapter's annual Oscar night dinner of film-inspired dishes when it doubled the nominees for Best Picture from five to 10 this year. But it definitely threw planners for a loop.
“It was a little bit weird,” said production and costume designer Donna Zakowska, chair of this year's celebration. “I've done this twice before, and we've always focused on five. It was sort of the perfect number.”
But it is a year of change. The March 7 party also finds a new home this year at Gilt at the New York Palace Hotel, where executive chef Justin Bogle and executive pastry chef David Carmichael created a course for each of the 10 nominated films.
From foie gras fashioned into cartoonish bombs for The Hurt Locker to orbs of inverted blueberry pie inspired by the alien moon of Avatar, the chefs seemed to take their task quite seriously. They prepared the dishes for a press preview February 18.
Zakowska, who won an Emmy for her costume designs for the HBO miniseries John Adams, says she was inspired by the chefs' theatrical sensibility in her decisions for the party's decor. She's working with florist Katsuya Nishimori on modern arrangements of white paper constructions and origami to play off the ornate venue.