Now in its 20th year of delighting palates with its contemporary French cuisine, iconic New York restaurant Daniel will be host to the official Academy Awards viewing party this Sunday, February 24th. Legendary Chef Daniel Boulud and the Academy’s New York Program Director Patrick Harrison hosted a private advance tasting Tuesday, giving a sneak peek at the exquisite canapés and cocktails in store for the industry insiders and Academy members who will attend the main event on Sunday. “My goal is for the party to be humorous, fun, and not too cerebral or serious,” explained Daniel, whose menu is inspired by several of this year’s nominee films to “capture the soul of the movie.”
The tasting began with the party’s signature drink, named after one of the most anticipated events of Oscar night: The Red Carpet. The refreshing cocktail of champagne, St. Germain, pear-infused vodka, and pomegranate gelée contains an ice cube housing its very own mini-Oscar statuette. Six whimsical canapés followed as Daniel shed light on the films they represent. The chef filled a brilliant red pomme d’amour with duck and apple for the film Amour, and drew upon the flavors of Denmark—smoked sturgeon with caraway potato, aquavit gelée, and caviar—to create his tribute to A Royal Affair. A citrusy Chilean ceviche with avocado, cilantro, and pickled red onion was poured over small seashells for the foreign film nominee, No, while the blockbuster musical Les Miserables inspired the humble Pain Surprise du Jean Valjean, pressed bread with various spreads. Pineapple BBQ-grilled mahi mahi, an ode to Kontiki, captured the tropical flavors of Polynesia. One of the tasting’s biggest hits paired tiger shrimp samosas with deliciously hot curry in honor of Ang Lee’s Life of Pi.
Chef Daniel’s painstaking menu preparations are not for naught—this is, after all, the only other official event hosted by the Academy on Sunday besides the Awards themselves. When asked what makes the New York viewing party such a special affair, Patrick Harrison praised its celebratory, relaxed atmosphere: “The party is banquet-style, it’s a time to relax and watch the show with friends.” And of course, “no one has to worry about acceptance speeches,” he added with a laugh. When challenged to choose any movie in history to design a menu for, Daniel divulged that he would love to create a 17th century feast for one of his favorite French films, Vatel. “Sometimes I imagine that I am Gerard Depardieu in Vatel,” the chef mused. As for Patrick Harrison—“Silence of the Lambs, all meat!” he quipped. If the friendly rapport between the chef and Academy representative were any indication, this Sunday will be a celebratory evening to remember.
Luckily, Daniel did not overlook those of us who will be hosting Oscar viewing parties from the comforts of our own homes. He offers simple, elegant recipes on the restaurant’s website. For detailed recipes and entertaining tips, visit http://www.danielnyc.com/ and click on the Oscar Screening Feast link on the restaurant homepage.