Do you envy all of the celebrities on Oscar night as they feast on the best food, sip on champagne and walk the red carpet?
You no longer have to.
Thanks to the visionary folks at the always inventive Borgata Hotel Casino & Spa, you can party like a celebrity without ever leaving Atlantic City when it hosts its second A Night on the Red Carpet at Wolfgang Puck American Grille.
The second annual event follows an extremely successful debut where Executive Chef Aram Mardigian and General Manager Anthony Santiago literally roll out the red carpet for an Oscar night extravaganza that is the next best thing to actually being at the acclaimed Governor’s Ball itself.
“As everyone knows, Wolfgang Puck is the chef of the fabulous Governor’s Ball, where the stars flock every year,” Santiago says. “So Chef Aram and I came up with this event last year with the mindset that a lot of the food will be the exact same food that Wolfgang will present that night in Hollywood. Everyone loved it, so we are doing it again.”
For $119, guests will arrive 7:30 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 26, for an Academy Awards viewing gala that will include amazing food, Moet Chandon Champagne and hand-crafted cocktails.
The extra light in the sky isn’t just the first hint of spring.
“Last year, the party centered more on the food and drinks and less on watching the Oscars, and we were surprised how long people stayed,” says Borgata Vice President of Food and Beverage Becky Schultz. “So this year, knowing that people stayed for the entire broadcast, we wanted to accommodate those individuals and have a true Oscar viewing party where you feel like you’re the star of the night.”
This year there will be more screens and enough seats so people can watch, hear and enjoy the awards show, with a live DJ playing during commercial breaks.
A good portion of the food will be the same signature dishes served by Puck at the Governor’s Ball, the biggest Oscar night gala in California that Puck has catered for years.
“We are having so much fun with this because it brings back memories for me,” says Mardigian, who worked three Governor’s Balls when he worked on the West Coast for Puck, including some time at Spago. “It was exciting to me as a young, up-and-coming, wannabe chef at that point. It was also an eye-opener for a kid from upstate New York to go to Sunset Boulevard with all of these stars walking in. The Governor’s Ball is just this huge, elegant ball and was the biggest afterparty at the time I was at Spago. So that was very cool. But that’s 20 years ago … when Hollywood legends like James Coburn and George Burns would walk by and you would just be wowed. And then a young Salma Hayek would appear and stop everyone in their tracks. It was really cool to be a part of that.”
Dishes for A Night on the Red Carpet at Borgata include petite baked potatoes with crème fraiche and black caviar; grilled tuna sopes with tomatillo salsa and queso fresco; four-cheese agnolotti pasta with shaved black truffles; American wagyu steak tartare crostini with Dijon aioli; Angry Lobster with spicy Chinese black bean sauce; Wolfgang’s Smoked Salmon Pizza with dill cream and black caviar; duck sausage pizza with shiitake mushrooms and shishito peppers; mini wagyu beef pastrami sandwiches with spicy cole slaw; grilled lamb “Lule” kabobs with spicy harissa and tzatziki sauce; Chinois chicken salad with Chinese mustard dressing, cashews and crispy fried wontons; hand-rolled ricotta gnocchi with pork and beef Bolognese and parmesan reggiano; and baked mac-n-cheese with cavatappi pasta, three cheeses and crispy pancetta.
An elaborate dessert display will include strawberry cheesecake lollipops, passion fruit marshmallows, lemon-blueberry tartlets, chewy cranberry meringue, chocolate hazelnut tarts, chocolate brownies, coconut macaroons and fruit and berry tartlets.
“People will really get to eat the same food Wolfgang is making for the celebrities that night,” Mardigian says. “The menu is pretty much set but we will add some last-minute things as we get closer. And while most of the menu is Wolfgang’s and Wolfgang Puck favorites, we will also add our own little touches with some things we have done here at the restaurant like our own pastrami that everyone got a taste of at Savor Borgata. It’s going to be a fabulous event that we are excited to be part of.”
Mardigian says those "Puck favorites" include steak tartare, smoked salmon pizza and the smoked duck sausage pizza that have been offered since Spago opened. But there will be some new surprises, as well.
“The new angry lobster is just great,” he says. “It’s spicy lobster with a Chinese black bean sauce that people really love. We will also bring back the tuna sopes that were a big hit from the Fat Tire beer dinner we had.”
Another big attraction of the Night on the Red Carpet is the impressive specialty hand-crafted cocktail menu designed by Santiago. Guests will be greeted with a 187 ml bottle of Moet and Chandon — complete with funnel topper to drink from. And while guests are welcome to endless champagne, they may want to sample some of Santiago’s creations.
“People will be able to drink champagne from the funnel topper just like they see celebrities drinking from on the red carpet,” Santiago says. “But we are really proud of the cocktail menu. All of the cocktails will be hand-crafted and feature very specific liquors such as Belvedere vodka and Hennessey cognac so that there is something for every tastebud. Everyone can have something special. And like last year, they will be modeled after the nominees. We have some surprises in store, but last year, for example, we had Smoke in a Glass for ‘The Revenant’ and Fury Fizz for ‘Mad Max.’ This year, we are concentrating on one for ‘Star Wars: Rogue One’ with a very specific champagne cocktail exemplifying the whole space theme. ‘La La Land’ may be an awesome Old-Fashioned or something that is classic that everyone remembers from back in the day. I would like to have one for ‘Hell or High Water.’ It will be fun.”
In addition to the great food, cocktails and viewing and musical experiences, a professional photographer will be on hand to take photos of partygoers, who will leave with a glossy photo memento. Guests are, of course, encouraged to dress the part.
“The greatest thing is that you don’t have to spend any money after you buy the ticket,” Mardigian says. “Once you are here, all you have to do is come out and feel like a star … and party like one!”
Tickets and more information for all events can be found at TheBorgata.com or by calling 609-317-1000.