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March 13, 2023

Inside the Making of the 2023 Oscars Menu

Last night, Hollywood royalty dined on a British-inspired menu of fish and chips, chicken pie, and trifle.

By Kim Ayling

Last night, the biggest names in film, from the up-and-coming to the industry veterans, gathered for the most prestigious film event of the year: The Oscars. Everything Everywhere All At Once stole the show at the 95th Academy Awards, scooping a total of seven wins including Michelle Yeoh for Best Actress and Daniel Kwan for Best Director, as well as the headline Best Picture award.

However, while most eyes were on which stars left clutching a golden Oscars statuette, behind the scenes, a gourmet banquet fit for Hollywood royalty was getting prepared for the famous Governor’s Ball – AKA the official Oscars after party.

While Wolfgang Puck has famously been in charge of the Oscars menu for nearly 30 years, the master chef is no stranger to enlisting some help. This year, the honor fell on British-born-and-bred chef, Elliott Grover.

The Puck protégée has led the kitchens at London’s Art Deco icon 45 Park Lane (including the hotel’s flagship CUT restaurant) for the best part of a year, before that having worked in celebrated establishments across the British capital

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Elliott grover
Elliott Grover has been 45 Park Lane’s executive chef for the past year / ©Dorchester Collection

His first role was at the now-shuttered Le Caprice, where he joined at the tender age of 16 with no formal chef training under his belt. “I just applied and magically got the job,” he tells me while sipping on a cocktail in 45 Park Lane’s mezzanine bar.

It was this tenacious attitude that secured him the Oscars gig too. Puck counts employees who have 10-, 20- and even 30-year tenures under their belt – how did the honor of cooking at the Oscars’ Governor Ball fall on Grover? “I asked,” he says simply.

“I asked if I could go along and Wolfgang said ‘Yes, why not?’. I thought it was a passing comment, but then two months ago he came to me and said, ‘I want you to make a dish.’”

British classics in the Oscars menu

One dish turned into three and now Grover has constructed a full menu that was served to the stars at the 2023 Oscars ceremony after-party. Sensibly, the chef stuck to what he knows best: British classics.

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“Wolfgang wanted a menu that represents the UK and I’m just trying to put CUT London on the map and share my personality … I’m starting with fish and chips, then a beautiful chicken pie,” he says. Dessert was a classic trifle, complete with a cherry on top.

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fish and chips by Elliott grover for the oscars 2023
Grover has elevated staple British recipes to lofty new heights / ©Dorchester Collection

Of course, this is the Oscars, so it’s not hearty comfort food as we know it. Instead, Grover rose to the occasion and elevated staple British recipes to lofty new heights. The fish and chips course was served as a snack: “It’s literally just a couple of chips served with a goujon of fish, but we wanted it to be the best chips, the best piece of fish, the best batter, pea puree, the fork, the cone – we wanted all the little details that make it really special.”

The beloved chicken pie underwent a makeover, too. “It’s a very special recipe,” Grover says. “I only use the white meat of the chicken. We fill the filling to an inch before the top of the pot, and tightly cover it with puff pastry which puffs up into a dome.”

The golden pastry was cut at the table, with shards of aromatic black truffle shaved into the rich stew within. “Everything Wolfgang does has a touch of theatre,” Grover explains.

To finish, a delicate trifle was served in individual glass pots. Each portion was be complete with the classics: a layer of fruit jelly, followed by layers of custard and cream, and topped with a maraschino cherry.

Fans of CUT will know that this menu veers away from its status as one of the best steak restaurants in London, but for Grover that was the point. “They know steak over there. There are a few fish and chip places in the States, but they’re not fantastic. I want to put British food on the map and show that it can be great.”

From his London team, just one colleague – head chef Ibrahim Arif – joined Grover in the US. Other than that, is the 100-stong horde of chefs who worked to Grover’s pre-sent instructions. 

[See also: A Night of Fine Dining on the British Pullman, a Belmond Train]

chicken pot pie on oscars menu
The chicken pot pie is finished tableside with black truffle / ©Dorchester Collection

Awards night surprises

Despite the caliber of the evening – and presumably, the high demands of the diners – Grover isn’t daunted. “I’m a little bit nervous, but I always am – it’s what keeps you on your toes,” he says. “But I think it will all be alright on the night. It’s all in the planning, the produce and the execution. We’ve got all that – we’ll be fine.”

However, while Grover’s strict instructions nail down even the tiniest details (“I’ve been sending links to the exact chip cones and wooden forks I want – it’s been a logistical nightmare”), this is the Oscars and it is the huge character that is Wolfgang Puck – there’s always room for some surprises on the night.

“There’s a rumor going around that he’s going to pull me out on a stand and ask me to do another dish last minute.” There are still no real nerves from Grover though: “I’ve got some ideas up my sleeve,” he says calmly.

Far from being a one-night-only special, the 2023 menu is also available over the Atlantic in London, at 45 Park Lane. From now until March 31, guests can enjoy either the full menu upstairs in BAR 45 (along with a limited-edition golden Oscars cocktail) or the chicken pot pie downstairs in the main CUT restaurant.

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