How the Oscars went from meaty comfort food to this year’s (almost) vegan dinner with dairy-free cheese, mushroom, and beets

  • Here’s a look at how the dinner at the Oscars have shifted over time.

At the first Oscars dinner in 1929, stars ate chicken, potatoes and green beans.

The first Academy Awards ceremony was held in 1929. Early iterations of the event’s dinner festivities were more formal, with a seated, multi-course meal, Bon Appetit reported.

The menu includes broiled chicken on toast or fish sauteed in butter for the entrees, with green beans and potatoes. Dessert was cake with ice cream, making it not much different from what an average person might serve for a dinner party. 

The 1940s saw a similar menu, but the Academy made the awards ceremony separate from the feast.

Through the 1940s and 50s, meat-based entrees still ruled the Oscars, with chicken, green beans, and potatoes making encore appearances. 

However, during WWII (and later, when the event became televised), the dinner portion of the event was separated from the awards ceremony, reportedly because celebrities didn’t want to be seen feasting on camera while the country was at war, according to Bon Appetit. 

The 1970s saw the raise of rich, French-influenced cuisine starring seafood and cream sauces.

The 1970 Oscar dinner included even more meat, along with butter and cream, thanks to a French theme, according to Love Food blog. 

This included shrimp, crab, and steak, in various sauces including plenty of wine. Dessert was fancy ice cream. The rest of the 70s followed a similar trend, with lots of beef, creamy béarnaise sauce, and chocolate-based desserts. 

Fittingly, this was the last decade before the low-fat diet craze began to catch on in the US, convincing Americans to eschew butter and full-fat dairy in favor of margarine and skim. 

1987, although still French-influenced, was more subdued at the Oscars dinner.

Veal en croute took the starring role at the 1980s Oscar dinner, on a simpler menu that included vegetable-based sides like asparagus and mushrooms. 

Chef Wolfgang Puck became the mastermind behind Oscar menus in 1993, bringing modern twists to classic French cuisine.

Though Puck has been trying out vegan versions of classics over the past decade, the Austrian-American restaurateur is best known for his meats.

Puck is heavily influenced by French cuisine, with rich animal products like meat, seafood, butter, and cheese.

One of his famous dishes, served at his Spago restaurant empire, is a pizza topped with smoked salmon and caviar. Other signature recipes include beef with wine sauce, chicken pot pie, and bacon-wrapped meatloaf. 

In 2004, the entree for the Oscar dinners was filet mignon…

In 2004, “The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King” took home the best picture award, and the dinner was appropriately regal.

It featured filet mignon, a notoriously expensive cut of beef, served with appetizers like roasted peppers with anchovies, prosciutto-wrapped asparagus, and beet and goat cheese pastries. 

…with side dishes like caviar baked potatoes.

The caviar baked potatoes are reportedly a favorite of Brad Pitt, according to Bon Appetit, and continue to be a crowd pleaser. 

They were served in 2004, pictured above, and have continued to feature since. (They are on the menu for the 2020 dinner.)

This year’s nominee lunch was entirely plant-based, featuring vegan cheese, roasted mushrooms, black rice, and squash.

The Nominee’s luncheon was entirely vegan, ABC’s George Pennacchio reported on Twitter, from the vegan bread and cheese plate to the chocolate- and fruit-based dessert course. 

Tweet Embed:
//twitter.com/mims/statuses/1221894466019024896?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw
Here’s the plant-based menu for today’s Oscar Nominees Luncheon. #oscars pic.twitter.com/02NQtYp2ls

The Governor’s Ball menu this year is slated to be 70 percent plant-based.

This year’s Oscar menu will be 70% plant-based, and it’s been widely reported that Joaquin Phoenix, an Oscar-nominee and vegan advocate, was responsible for many award dinners shifting to meat-free menus. 

But chef Wolfgang Puck told US Magazine  that many dishes aren’t much different from previous dinners, including roasted vegetables like beets, mushrooms, and eggplant. 

“We always had a lot of vegan dishes, we just never talked about it,” he said. 

The Academy said in a press release the menu is designed to be more environmentally sustainable and help reduce the organization’s carbon footprint. 

But sustainably-farmed “smoked salmon Oscars” and a decadent truffle chicken pot pie will stick around.

The non-veggie options will be made with with “sustainably farmed” fish and meat, according to Variety. 

Those include classics like trophy-shaped salmon with caviar, as well as a black truffle chicken pot pie. 

Read more:

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Eating just 2 servings of red meat or poultry a week could raise your risk of heart disease

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