James Beard Award-winning chef Michael Schwartz is working with the International Olive Council to promote olives and olive oil through the Add Some Life campaign. I reached out to Schwartz to find out how restaurants can get creative this film awards season.
What opportunities does movie awards season present for restaurants?
Every night is theater for us in the restaurant so there is a common thread between show business and what we do. This season for me is growing season here in South Florida, so it’s the time of year I look forward to most in terms of what we can put out there to please our audience in the dining room. Fresh heirloom tomatoes, baby vegetables of all shapes and colors … juicy strawberries … we’re having a field day every day. Literally!
What are the challenges for restaurants hosting promotions based on the Oscars?
We don’t run special promotions based on awards shows, but I’m always up for a challenge if we had a private party request based on a theme menu. Pulling a theme from a movie, applying that back to food and then keeping the theme consistent across a multicourse meal would be a very interesting task.
How would you go about creating a dish around the theme of a film? Any examples you’ve done in the past?
I would watch the film and take cues from the time period, the location and the characters. For example, preparing Brandade on Garlic Toast with Green Olive and Parsley Salad would work for “Midnight in Paris,” as that is a take on a traditional French dish.
Do any of this year’s nominated films lend themselves to being featured as a dish?
Definitely. In addition to “Midnight in Paris,” a great meal could be built around “The Descendants.” Using the backdrop of the film as inspiration, a Hawaiian menu could be created, featuring items like Chicken Mango Skewers with Lime Poppy Seed Drizzle.
What culinary trends can be incorporated into an Oscar’s party?
Any time you’re entertaining … around a broadcast feature – from the Oscars to a big game (in my case, it would probably be a match-up involving one of my Philly teams) — it’s all about creating dishes using simple, flavorful ingredients. Entertaining, whether for the Oscars or any occasion, is made easy when you have a variety of staples on hand. Ingredients like citrus, artisan cheese, quality protein, olives and olive oil can be combined to make a variety of flavorful dishes. I always like serving snacks and small plates, which allow people to have fun, interact, and share.
I hate being stuck in the kitchen, when you really want to be enjoying your guests’ company.