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A Look at The 14th Annual EJAF Oscar Bash

Monday 6 March 2006 @ 16:46 - GMT

ABC's Good Morning America, the CBS Early Show and NBC's Today Show all featured reports on the 14th annual EJAF soiree at which Elton performed Rocket Man with John Legend.

But the L.A. Times went behind-the-scenes, asking the chef/owner of Mark's Restaurant and Crumble Catering what cooking for such an event involves.

It takes eight weeks of planningand a cast of 150 servers, kitchen staff and bartenders.. In all, Wayne Elias is responsible for overseeing a reception; a four-course, $2,500-per-person dinner (with proceeds going to the EJAF); and the highlight of the night: the Academy Awards after-party.

 The 47-year-old himself cooked for the reception and the after-party. Italian chef Renato Piccolotto, of the Hotel Cipriani in Venice, was flown in especially to prepare the dinner.

The key to success, according to Waye is attention to detail. He'll personally made sure that Elton's dressing room was stocked with the protein bars and seasonal vegetables with artichoke dip that he likes to munch before performing at the after-party. He also had a treat for the guests: As they entered the tent, they were treated to a flute of 1998 Perrier Jouet Fleur de Champagne. And refills were available at the champagne bar, where the bubbly was served with edible violets and tiny baby blue geraniums floating on top.

"I guarantee you won't see anything like them at any other Oscar party," said Chris Diamond, the chef's business partner.


 But with names like Lindsay Lohan, Tori Spelling, Prince and Sharon and Ozzy Osbourne in attendance, Wayne admitted it was a tough crowd ''to wow.''

So the plan was to stick to comfort foodwith a twist: grilled cheese sandwiches, only with raisin bread, Gorgonzola, mascarpone and pears; mini-burger sliders adorned with caramelized onions and ginger ketchup, and a not-so-traditional quesadilla with Maine lobster, goat cheese and caviar.

"Not everything has to be five-star haute cuisine," Wayne pointed out. "Sometimes even celebrities want a little grease."

But it's all in moderation: "People are dancing, eating and drinking, and some are even clutching statuettes," Wayne noted. "You don't want them spilling and making a mess all over themselves."