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How to Eat Like the Stars at Elton John's Annual Oscars Party

Chris Diamond, Elton John, and Wayne Elias at last year's EJAF Academy Awards Viewing Party (Photo courtesy Crumble Catering)
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For the 20th year, the Elton John AIDS Foundation (EJAF) will be host to a star-studded and delicious evening of Academy Awards gold at their Oscar viewing party in West Hollywood. This five-course catered dinner and celebration is the most highly visible and successful fund-raising event in Hollywood on Oscar night, and has raised millions of dollars to support the work of the EJAF.

The event is being catered for the eighth year by Crumble Catering, a local outfit owned and operated by Wayne Elias and Chris Diamond, who also own Vermont, one of Los Feliz' most popular restaurants and bars. Each year the EJAF teams Crumble Catering with a celeb chef (last year it was Ludo Lefebvre) to put together a dazzling menu for their guests. This year's shindig's celeb chef is Cat Cora, whose own cooking style is influencing the evening's tantalizing eats.

We checked in with Chef Elias about this year's menu and working with "Iron Chef" Cora.

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Chef Wayne Elias cooking things up at last year's EJAF Oscars party (Photo courtesy Crumble Catering)
"We plan the menu based on who is the celebrity chef I am working with for the year," explains Elias. "So this year I am working with Cat Cora and it is a Cali-Meditteranean theme." That theme is evident in dishes like Sesame-Encrusted Lamb Meatball with Harissa Yogurt, White Bean-Tahini Puree and Crisp Mint, which the Crumble team will help Cora execute for the event.Aside from the sit-down dinner, guests will be noshing during the cocktail hour and after the show on several small bites, and as many who host at-home viewing parties know, having an abundance of tasty hors d'oevres can be the key to culinary success for the evening.

Among the nibbles at the EJAF party will be bites like Chinese spoons with siracha tuna tartare, daikon sprouts; Fingerling potato raft, roasted vanilla pork loin, golden raisin-apple chutney, chive flower; Sugar cane skewer shrimp with chile-cilantro rub; and Pizzettes, artichoke hearts, kalamata olives, lemon zest. Plus, they're making sweet bites, like Mini Olive Oil Tea Cakes with Lemon glaze and fresh rosemary; Maple Syrup Donut Holes; and French Meringue Macaroons with pistachio, strawberry, mocha, or lemon.

The first rule, says Elias, is that good ingredients are key: "We do always use fresh local produce and farm out as many ingredients for each course that is prepared."

John doesn't make any special requests for the evening, Elias tells us, which lets the chefs come up with a menu that reflects their specialties. Of Cora, Elias says working with her "has been very easy and fluid," adding "[Cora] is a warm, caring woman and has great passion for what she does. She also is very respectful of other chefs and their talents and I am looking forward to a great event."

If you're going to be hosting an Oscars party for a couple, or even a whole bunch, of guests, Elias has shared a Crumble Catering recipe for one of the hors d'oerves they'll be serving come Oscar night (which, by the way, is this Sunday, February 26).

Almond Pesto marinated Succulent Shrimp with Mint Soy aioli

12 jumbo shrimp, peeled and deveined

To prepare pesto:

½ cup roasted almonds
½ cup olive oil
½ cup fresh basil leaves
¼ cup Parmesan cheese
1 clove of garlic
squeeze of half lemon
salt and pepper to taste

In a blender place all ingredients except oil and S & P and blend for 10 seconds then on medium blend add oil in a stream. Add some salt and pepper and taste. Adjust accordingly.

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Marinate shrimp in pesto marinade for at least 2 hours or over night.

To cook, pan sauté shrimp in olive oil till light pink, transfer to serving dish and top with a dab of mint soy aioli.

Mint soy aioli

½ cup light mayo
½ tsp minced fresh garlic
1 tbsp Lemon juice
2 tbsp Light soy
1 tbsp Chopped fresh mint

Mix all ingredients together and adjust seasoning accordingly