When it comes to creating mouth-watering cuisine for Oscar® parties, nobody does it better than Chef Wayne Elias and his partner Chris Diamond, owners of Crumble Catering/Rockwell Table & Stage. As the official caterers for the Elton John AIDS Foundation gala for the past twelve years, it’s been their responsibility to please the palettes of Hollywood’s A-list stars and talent.
On Sunday, February 28, 2016, Chef Wayne and Diamond will once again go into high gear, preparing five-course meals to please the palette in a massive undertaking, made to look easy and run like clockwork. And, once again, they will be collaborating with Master Chef Gordon Ramsey, who designed the dinner menu.
Diamond commented: “No matter how many years have passed, this fundraiser is like nothing else in the land and truly a labor of love for an amazing cause!”
Chef Wayne works hand-in-hand with Diamond (his business partner of over twenty-six years) to design a unique menu for this discerning group of assembled VIPs and donors.
On tap this year is a waiter-served five-course meal served during the Oscar telecast. Inside an array of custom-built pavilions, West Hollywood Park is transformed to a City within a City. It takes an army of more than 150 servers, bartenders and kitchen staff to make the evening flawless.
For Chef Wayne, every meal he serves is equally important, remarking, “Like the Oscar winning film of the same title this truly is ‘A NIGHT TO REMEMBER!’”
Over the years, Crumble has catered hundreds of A-list events from Harry Potter, to Creed, 42, Draft Day, Man on the Ledge; along with cast and crew screenings such as Argo, Coat of Many Colors, Cloud Atlas.
Whether it’s an elegant dinner for 10, or a major corporate party for 5000, Crumble makes it effortless: www.crumblecatering.com
Chef Wayne Elias spoke to BellaLAMag.com about how he prepares for one of Hollywood’s most fabulous parties of the year.
Q: What is your professional background?
A: I have studied Culinary Arts at the Rhode Island School of Design for Culinary Arts for two years. Since then, I have been a chef for over 30 years.
Q: How did you begin working for the Elton John Oscar Viewing Party?
A: Twelve years ago the Elton John AIDS Foundation was looking for a new caterer. However, EJAF quickly realized that most local caterers were only concerned with how much press they could get by working this prestigious event. Our main focus, on the other hand, has always been the actual work for the organization and helping the cause at hand. We were willing to work with a very tight budget while managing to keep the menu elegant and top-notch.
Q: What is the most important detail when it comes to cooking for a big event like the Elton John Oscar Viewing Party?
A: Serving 5 courses to 1000 guests in 3.5 hours is no easy task to manage, so detailed organized and timely execution are a must to guarantee a successful evening.
Q: How do you select what to make for the Elton John Oscar Viewing Party?
A: I will be working with Gordon Ramsay for the third year in a row this year. I assist him in creating the dishes and deciding what to serve on the dinner menu with respect to the different dietary needs of our guests. Also, Gordon Ramsay takes the lead when it comes to the direction of the dinner menu, while I make sure that we can source the ingredients, and consecutively prepare and serve the dishes within the given time and budget limits.
Q: Is there a new menu each year or are some of the dishes considered staples when it comes to the Elton John Oscar Viewing Party?
A: Most of the menu is updated every year to keep it fresh and exciting. However, the one item we keep on the menu every year is a Grilled Raisin Bread Cheese Sandwich with Gorgonzola, Mascarpone and Asian Pears. I have created this very dish years ago and it has always been a crowd pleaser.
Q: What is your advice for someone who wants to throw the ultimate at-home Oscar Viewing Party?
A: For an Oscar Party at home, I recommend serving mostly room-temperature cold hors d’ oeuvres and maybe one or two hot items that can easily be heated up and put in a chafing dish. This way, the host (you) can focus on mingling with your guests rather than spending your night in the kitchen.
And if you want to replicate the dishes at home that will be served at Elton John’s bash – check out the recipes below:
Mac n Cheese Cup Cakes (Makes 12 Cup Cakes)
Cook ½ pound of small elbow macaroni and drain and cool
Make a cheese sauce with a roux made from 2 tblsp. butter and add 1/4 cup of flour cook for 3 minutes on low heat and then add a quart of regular milk cook fro 10 minutes on low heat constantly stirring so it wont burn.
Then add 1 pound of cheddar, 2 ounces of boursin cheese, 2 ounces or parmesan cheese, salt and white pepper to taste
Cool down the sauce and mix the sauce and macaroni
Take a muffin tin and spray the 12 muffin cups and line with 12 pot sticker skins .
Fill each skin with the macaroni mixture to the rim and bake at 350 degrees for 10 minutes.
4 Tomatoes diced medium
1 tblsp diced shallots
2 tblsp rice vinegar
1 tblsp white sugar
Heat 1 teaspoon of olive oil add tomatoes and shallots cook for 5 minutes or until soft, add the rice vinegar and sugar and a pinch of salt and cook for another 5 minutes on low flame. After the Chutney is room temperture, top each mac cup cake with 1 teaspoon
Berkshire Blue Panini Sandwiches
1 Sandwich can be cut into 4 or 8 pieces
2 pieces of dark wheat bread laying side by side
Spread a thin coat of fig jam on both each bread
2 ounce of crumble blue cheese- sprinkle 1/2 on 1 piece of bread
1 ounce of toasted pumpkin seeds- sprinkle on top of the blue cheese
5 sage leaves spread over the pumpkin seeds
4 arugula leaves spread over the sage leaves
Sprinkle the remaining blue cheese over the arugula
Close the sandwich with the other piece of wheat bread and gently press down.
Grill in a Panini grill or this can be pan grilled in 2 ounces of butter mixed with 1 ounce of olive oil on low to medium flame and place a medium weight pan on top till grilled and golden brown, then flip over the sandwich and brown the other side.
Grilled Raisin Bread Cheese Sandwiches with Gorgonzola, Marscapone, Asian Pears
3 sandwiches = 1 dozen hors d’ ouevres
6 slices of thin sliced raisin bread
3 oz. Marscapone cheese
3 oz. Gorgonzola cheese
1 asian pear peeled, cored, sliced thin
2 oz. Butter for pan grilling
Place 6 slices of raisin bread on work table.
Spread the marscapone cheese evenly on all slices
Sprinkle the gorgonzola evenly on 3 of the raisin bread slices.
On top of the cheese place 3 slices of pear.
Place the other slice on top and close the sandwich.
In a saute pan melt 2 oz. Of butter and over low to medium heat grill the sandwiches on both sides till golden brown.
To serve: Trim the edges off the sandwiches and cut into a criss cross to form 4 little triangle pieces. Plate, serve and garnish with fresh herbs.