Stepping Up to the Plate

When we think of Hollywood’s most glamorous events, like red carpet premieres, awards ceremonies, or high profile sporting events, we think stars in glittery gowns dripping with jewelry that requires its own security team. But the best show is the show you never see: the controlled chaos going on behind the scenes.

The Event (HBO Max) takes us inside the world of ├╝ber chef Wolfgang Puck. Turns out, you can’t have too many cooks in the kitchen.

The Menu

Over the top doesn’t begin to describe the work that goes into the work. This isn’t a Hell’s Kitchen ripoff, set inside one of his many restaurants. We’re looking at his catering biz. And while may be Wolfgang’s story, but he’s not the one telling it. We spend most of the time meeting his incredibly competent executive staff. From the head of sales to the VIP concierge to the specialty chefs to the head bartender.

One thing they all have in common is: they know food. In the first episode they’re planning to cater the Screen Actor’s Guild Awards ceremony and afterparty. We see them designing how the food will look on plate, and everyone from sales to kitchen weighs in. Not only does it have to be eye catching, it has to be able to be replicated hundreds of times and still be fresh when it hits the table.

To Go Orders

Life in Wolfgang’s catering kitchen is always on the go. Catering companies we’re familiar with are usually a large truck, a few gas fueled burners, and bins of prepared pasta. Puck’s catering company physically moves heaven and Earth and entire professional kitchens across Southern California, and setting them up in areas that weren’t designed to hold pop up kitchens.

The one thing each event has in common: the food is innovative and looks amazing. I’ve been to some of his restaurants and have never left disappointed. Sometimes peeking behind the curtain into the lives of your idols, you can be disillusioned. Not here. My mouth was watering with every appetizer, main course, and dessert.

If you’re a foodie or just a fan of Hollywood glamor, you’ll love the insight The Event gives you. One thing I’m not buying is the calmness in the kitchen. While their is urgency and minor emergencies, everyone keeps cool. No one’s yelling and when someone drops the ball they’re told to learn from a mistake and hug it out. Maybe they’re just that tight and disciplined. As for me, I can’t bake a potato without dropping one F-bomb. (It’s also worth noting that Wolfgang Puck is an Executive Producer on the show, so he may be curating an image)

The Event was supposed to be an eight episode limited series, but is even more limited than that. The event in episode four is cancelled due to the pandemic. The staff hugged each other (remember hugging) and said they’d be back next year. That may prove overly optimistic. But I can’t wait to feast on more.

The Critic’s Cocktail Recommendation

For this drink, I’m having a Tainted Love, it’s the signature cocktail at Wolfgang’s Five Sixty restaurant in Dallas. Perfect for washing down any appetizer on the menu.

Cheers!

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