How to Feed 1,250 Emotional People at an Awards Show

What happens when you ask Suzanne Goin to look "fierce."

A producer friend of a friend once described his pre-Oscar ritual as something akin to a runner prepping for a marathon: “Eat.  Because you’re not going to until hours and hours later.”  That he has to go hungry during the 3+ hours of The Emmys or The Oscars is the worst thing about the gala for him (for people who actually are in it to win it, the worst thing probably is not being nominated or losing what may be your only chance to claim the “O” in “EGOT“).  Anyway, the reason why, say, The Golden Globes and The Screen Actors’ Guild Awards are better in his book is in part because you get to eat.  Eating is, after all, the panacea for all the ups and downs during any awards ceremony, whether it be The SAG Awards at The Shrine or your kid’s end-of-the-year award ceremony at The Overcrowded Multipurpose Room.  Anxious?  Snack, nervously.  Weren’t nominated?  Chomp, vengefully.  Didn’t win?  Nosh, sadly.  Did win?  Feast, gluttonously.  Bored?  Eat, mindfully.

Now, say you’re the chef who has to cater said eating awards event.  What do you do?  Suzanne Goin, chef and owner of Lucques, AOC, and Tavern, is doing the cooking for the Screen Actors’ Guild Awards this Sunday.  She and her entourage at Lucques Catering will serve some 1,250 people who are hungry/nervous/overconfident/not confident enough given the caliber of their work/there for the swag.  To ease the emotional roller-coaster, she will plate a lovely quartet of palate-pleasers that reflect local, seasonal cooking.

Clockwise from the top left: beluga lentils with carrots, pine nuts, and feta; slow-roasted salmon with ginger-mint chutney; slow-roasted lamb with chickpeas and feta salsa verde; a beautiful salad with blood oranges, dates, arugula, and parmesan; and a baked herbed crostini with parmesan and chopped thyme and parsley to bring it all together.  When each part is consumed, and why – well, to each his or her own.

And, because if you’re anything like me and sometimes like seeing how they made, say, Toy Story 3, almost as much as you like seeing the finished product, a couple of photos of the kitchen at Lucques:

For those of you not part of the SAG action on Sunday night, Lucques and AOC are both participating in DineLA.  Lucques is offering a three-course lunch menu for $28, and a three-course dinner menu for $44.  AOC is offering a three-course dinner menu for $44.  Given the caliber of the food at both restaurants – really, unlike other high-end restaurants, I can’t recall ever having a meal at either Lucques or AOC that I regretted – the prix fixe menus are a great deal.  Go on, snack, chomp, nosh, feast, eat.  Your emotions will thank you later.

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