Award-night dining

Here’s what the stars at the 17th Annual Screen Actors Guild Awards will be eating inside the Shrine Auditorium on Sunday night while you — possibly with lukewarm TV dinner in hand — watch them congratulate one another:

A crisp salad of nutty arugula, chewy dates, plump blood oranges and paper-thin Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese kissed with olive oil and sprinkled with kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper; fat beluga lentils with soft chunks of carrot, pine nuts and a dusting of creamy feta cheese; slender slices of slow-roasted king salmon on a sea of diced cucumbers in a yogurt sauce flavored with ginger-mint chutney; tender slow-roasted lamb on a creamy bed of pureed chickpeas flecked with black olives and tangy feta salsa verde; and a slim herbed crostini baked with parsley, rosemary and thyme.

The meal is being prepared by star chef Suzanne Goin, whose multiple high-profile L.A. restaurants (Lucques, A.O.C., Hungry Cat and Tavern) and impressive resume (Campanile, Chez Panisse) put her in league with Joachim Splichal and Wolfgang Puck, who cater two of L.A.'s biggest awards shows, the Emmys and the Oscars, respectively.

This will be Goin’s second year catering the SAG awards. Before her, the event was the province of Alan Jackson, who owns the fresh and casual restaurant Lemonade, with five L.A. locations.


JoBeth Williams, chair of SAG’s Awards Committee, says that the choice to replace Jackson with Goin was simply a matter of shaking up a routine. “Everybody just felt it was time for a change,” she explained at a recent menu tasting at Lucques, populated by chipper entertainment news TV crews. “We all knew and loved Lucques and last year everyone commented on the food. Everyone loved it!”

Goin says the gig — which requires that she and her crew of 24 helpers prepare 1,250 plates of food that must look delicious, be easy to eat and still taste good cold after being on a table for two hours — is the largest catering job she’s ever had. But she enjoys the challenge.

“I used a lot of bold flavors, fresh herbs and lemon. Things that will pop without being too saucy,” she said, looking stress-free and striking despite the many cameras in Lucques’ bustling kitchen. Perhaps with Goin’s addition to the SAG Awards cast, that event — long overshadowed by the Golden Globes and the Oscars — is readying itself for primetime.

—Jessica Gelt