updated 02/24/2012 AT 11:00 AM ET
•originally published 02/26/2012 AT 4:45 PM ET
Celebrity chef Wolfgang Puck will be in charge of feeding nearly 2,000 guests at the Academy Awards ceremony this year, his 18th consecutive year as the official Oscars chef. This year, he has a comfort-food bonanza planned – though past plans haven’t always gone so smoothly, as he tells PEOPLE:
What do you have to do to take care that the menu doesn’t seem to favor a particular nominee?
Puck: We don’t pair our menu to movies or actors who are nominated. From our smoked-salmon Oscars to the ever-popular 24-karat-gold-covered chocolate Oscars, the menu is always something that stands alone. After all, it’s not about one movie, it’s about the Oscars.
Is there a particular Oscars dinner that you’ve done in the past that you use as the bar for future Oscar dinners?
Puck: Every year is just like opening night at the theater. I don’t look at the past – I only look at what will be great this year. It’s difficult to serve 1,600 people at the same time, so we have to plan our menu carefully. This year, I’m very excited because the whole structure is different – it will be a party with couches, low tables, and we’ll serve a lot of different dishes on small plates like a small chicken pot pie with black truffles, chinois lamb chops with mint-cilantro vinaigrette, macaroni and cheese, braised short ribs, crispy sea bass in puff pastry, and many more.