Between the Parisian setting of Amour, the magical realism in Beasts of the Southern Wild, and the classic Americana of Lincoln, this year's Oscar-nominated films have plenty of elements to ignite the imaginations of event planners and caterers. We asked industry pros to dream up Academy Awards party menus inspired by each of the movies. Here's what they came up with.
Wendy Pashman, Entertaining Company, Chicago:
1. ”Silver Linings Playbook is a foodie anthropologist's dream with a juxtaposition of down-home Philly 'crabby snacks'—cue the processed Kraft cheese and canned crab meat—and Old-World, homemade dishes.” The Entertaining Company's menu would have courses with football-inspired names. The Kickoff cocktail would be a Ketel One martini inspired by Robert De Niro's character. The appetizers would be crab cakes with aioli, homemade chips, and Philly cheesesteak sliders. The Halftime course would be homemade pasta, as well as samosas and vegetarian curry inspired by the character Dr. Patel.
2. A menu to represent Beasts of the Southern Wild would contain repurposed elements, tons of creativity, and “seafood, seafood, seafood!” The meal would include cornmeal-crusted cod cakes in newspaper cones; fried chicken with sautéed, garden-plucked herbs; shrimp sautéed on a heated metal drum “which you slurp—no china necessary;” and Mason jars filled with lemonade.
3. A menu inspired by Lincoln would include “good old Midwestern stews, potatoes, home-baked bread, and a soupçon of Southern flavor, like Captain curry chicken and slaw with pecan pie and sweet tea.”
Kathy Valentine, Design Cuisine, Virginia:
4. An Amour-inspired tea menu would include herbed cucumber sandwich bites and green-tea cheesecake minis.
5. An Argo menu would combine Canadian and Persian dishes, with a mini poutine plate of “thick-cut fries, cheese curds, and warm peppery gravy,” as well as fennel lamb on rosemary branches.
6. Beasts of the Southern Wild would be represented with a bayou-inspired menu of catfish hush puppies with lemon-caper sauce, shrimp brandade fritters with spice remoulade, green-plantain sausage fritters, and birthday-cake bars with sprinkles for dessert.
7. Inspired by the Francophile plantation owner in Django Unchained, a menu based on the film would comprise fig compote and foie gras toasts, steak au poivre skewers, and poached lobster tartlets.
8. The Les Misérables menu would include caramelized-onion-walnut-and-roquefort tartlets, gougere, and mini croque-monsieurs.
9. An Indian feast inspired by Life of Pi would comprise rasam-tomato soup sips, red curry sambal chicken, and lamb kabobs served in bamboo boats with risi bisi rice.
10. To represent Lincoln: crab-and-corn casserole in mini jars, “penny-size” mushroom terrine, and mini pheasant pot pies.
11. Philly-style football-watching fare inspired by Silver Linings Playbook would include Philly poppers and fried oyster po'boy bites.
12. A Zero Dark Thirty menu would have Middle Eastern classics, including vegetarian dolmas, mini chicken Bisteeya, and marinated feta with red pepper harissa.
Molly Schemper, Fig Catering, Chicago:
13. Life of Pi would be represented with a menu of pies, including naan pizza pie with curried chickpeas, spinach, and potatoes; individual potpies; whoopie pies; and, of course, classic dessert pies.
14. Schemper's Feasts of the Southern Wild menu would include a traditional crab boil and classic New Orleans cocktails including Sazerac, the Ramos Gin Fizz, and a Real Fruit Hurricane.
15. An Argo Trojan Horse cocktail would be made with ouzo, vodka, guava simple syrup, lime juice, and gold flakes to represent the Oscars.
Rita Gutekanst, Limelight, Chicago:
16. Limelight's Bites of the Southern Wild menu includes chicken gumbo, Frito pies, the Big Cheezy grilled sandwiches, and bacon-and-blue-cheese popcorn.
17. An Oscar-appropriate cocktail pairing? The Hollywood Hipster, made with Patron Silver tequila, blackberry liqueur, lime syrup, honey, and a gold-dust rim.
Debi Lilly, A Perfect Event, Chicago:
18. Lilly would set up a Best Picture Tasting Bar, including items such as Argo shish kabobs and “falafel-abobs” with dipping sauces, paired with mint-tea-bourbon cocktails in Moroccan teacups.
19. Another food-and-drink pairing: Lincoln-inspired roast beef sliders with bacon jam and pickled vegetables, served with D.C. Donkey cocktails, a version of the traditional Moscow Mule made with Effen cucumber vodka, ginger, mint, and limes.
The Avalon Beverly Hills, Beverly Hills:
20. The team at the hotel's restaurant, Oliverio, has prepared special cocktails in honor of each of the nominated flicks. The Zero Dark Thirsty is a blend of rum, fresh lime juice, ginger, and ginger beer.
21. The Silver (Linings) Fizz cocktail contains gin, fresh lemon juice, egg whites, and soda.
22. The Django's Smash drink combines bourbon with fresh lemon, mint, sugar, and bitters.
23. The Argo is a nonalcoholic blend of sparkling cranberry juice and rosemary. “Just as their movie was fake, this cocktail is,” quips the menu.
The team at Jewell Events Catering, Chicago:
24. For a Les Misérables cocktail reception, inspired by the cast, scores, and cuisine of France, the Jewell team would concoct two specialty cocktails: the Lovely Lady, a mix of gin with apple bitters, lemon juice, and cherry reduction, with a garnish of edible orchids and Rainier cherries; and A Little Fall of Rain, a blend of vodka, St. Germain, and thyme soda, garnished with raspberries and thyme.
25. Passed hors d'oeuvres would include peasant potatoes dubbed Thenardiers' Paysan de Pommes. The dish would combine petite new potatoes with fromage blanc, chives, and Dijon mustard. The Canape Cosette would be toasted brioche points topped with Boursin cheese and served with watermelon radish, asparagus, and lemon zest. Other passed snacks would include croque-monsieur bites, Jean Valjean Braised Beef Bourguignon, petite brie baked en croute, and Beggars at the Feast, crepe purses filled with ground lamb, coriander, cumin, and roasted pear.
26. The reception would end with passed desserts, including Look (Upside) Down Cakes, a mini baked apple upside-down cake with whiskey-caramel glaze. Dream a Dream bars would be made with graham crackers, chocolate chips, butterscotch, coconut, and candied pecans, and the Heart Full of Love dessert would be shortbread hearts filled with raspberry compote and dusted with powdered sugar.
Chef Melissa Chickerno, Blue Plate Catering, Chicago:
27. To represent Beasts of the Southern Wild, Chickerno recommends serving mini Braised Beast sandwiches made with pulled pork and barbecue sauce.
Rachel De Marte, Rachel De Marte, Plan Style Party, Chicago:
28. “I'd whip up a menu for Zero Dark Thirty and do a cool ethnic theme with Middle Eastern cuisine." Cocktails would include the Seal Team Six, made with Woodford Reserve, molasses, cola, paprika, and green Tabasco. Bin Laden Lemonade would blend black-cherry vodka with ginger liqueur, lemonade, and club soda. The Pakistani would be a gin-based cocktail with mango puree, saffron, and edible orchid.
29. Hors d'oeuvres would include passed kibeh meatballs made with spicy ground beef, caramelized onions, and pine nuts; shrimp charmoula over biriyani rice cakes; and mini feta-and-parsley cheese pies. She'd also serve fattoush salad bites in savory cones, petite mucver (zucchini pancakes with creamy yogurt garlic sauce), and beetroot-and-goat-cheese samosas with white-truffle dressing.
30. Diner would have a first course of mixed baby greens with grilled paneer, pomegranate seeds, and papadum. The entrée would be roast leg of lamb with curry leaf quinoa, and dessert would be a chocolate bomb filled with dark-chocolate mousse, Grand Marnier syrup, and saffron.