Chef Wolfgang Puck readies caviar, gold dust for Oscars feast

Master Chef Wolfgang Puck is pictured during a media preview of this year's Academy's Governors Ball in Los Angeles, California, U.S., March 1, 2018. (Reuters)
Updated 03 March 2018
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Chef Wolfgang Puck readies caviar, gold dust for Oscars feast

LOS ANGELES: Three-hundred pounds of Miyazaki Wagyu beef will be sliced, 1,500 quail eggs cracked and some 1,400 corks popped as Hollywood’s stars dine on chef Wolfgang Puck’s recipes after the Oscars are handed out on Sunday in Los Angeles.
Puck, the celebrity chef in his 24th year preparing the post-Academy Awards feast, on Thursday unveiled his menu for the annual Governor’s Ball that will serve up 30 pounds (13.6 kg) of edible gold dust to 1,500 guests of A-listers and Oscar winners.
“We are really all of us excited, and I really think for us it’s always very special,” the 68-year-old Austrian-born Puck said.
Diners will be treated to more than 50 dishes, including small-plate entrees such as mini pea and carrot ravioli with black truffle, a raw bar featuring caviar parfait with 24-karat gold, and cocktail-inspired macarons like negroni and mojito.
The event will require a staff of more than 1,000 to prepare food, serve 800 stone crab claws and pour more than 10,900 glasses of various beverages.
Puck, who also included vegan and gluten-free fare such as spinach campanelle and tiny taro tacos, approached the event with his trademark enthusiasm, cracking a raspberry dessert with a spoon while declaring sweets his “most important thing“
“As long as the Oscars is not tired of me, I’m not tired of Oscar,” Puck said with a grin.


Saudi home-bakers cooking up sweet business on internet

Nada Kutbi started baking from home for family and friends before setting up her Sucre De Nada pastry shop to expand her home business. (Photos/Supplied)
Updated 22 May 2019
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Saudi home-bakers cooking up sweet business on internet

  • Thanks to social media, business is booming for Jeddah’s cake and pastry makers

JEDDAH: Enterprising Saudi home-bakers have been turning to social media to help cook up some sweet business success.
The Kingdom’s food producers are proving to be some of the rising stars of the internet, and none more so than 53-year-old mom Nada Kutbi.
Her Sucre De Nada pastry shop in Jeddah has become one of the go-to places for homemade desserts and cakes, and the online side of her business is also booming.
Kutbi’s daughter, Nassiba Khashoggi, told Arab News: “She has basically been baking all her life, especially after having children. She used to make cookies for us and whenever she tried a dessert somewhere else, she would recreate it.
“In restaurants or gatherings, she would always analyze sweets and make them at home for her family. That was how she started baking.
“I don’t think she ever thought she could pursue it as a career, but everyone loved her baking and one of her closest friends encouraged her to start her business when she was a stay-at-home mom.
“It was in 2011-2012, and her friend basically forced her to start by telling her, ‘yallah! make a cake and I will buy it from you now.’”
Khashoggi added: “In the beginning we just went by word of mouth, but when Instagram came along, we made an account and started posting pictures and the customers loved her creativity and uniqueness. I don’t think many people knew what banoffee was before my mom promoted it.”
Although Kutbi’s unique takes and touches went down a treat with customers, it was not until Ramadan last year that she officially opened her bakery in Jeddah.
But stepping up from running a home business presented new challenges. “When you are running a home business there are few staff and it is easy to control,” said Khashoggi. But expanding requires you to put more trust in other people and that was difficult for my mom. Also, when we increased the number of our products it became harder to maintain the quality of goods.”
Kutbi aims to avoid storing, pre-baking or freezing her products and is not a fan of mass production and blast freezing, according to her daughter. “In short, she is against commercial baking,” said Khashoggi. “What is unique about my mom is that everything she makes is made the same day from scratch. It makes it harder for her to redo everything but that’s what makes her special.”

HIGHLIGHtS

• The Kingdom’s food producers are proving to be some of the rising stars of the internet, none more so than 53-year-old mom Nada Kutbi.

• Kutbi’s unique takes and touches have been a hit with customer, but it was not until Ramadan last year that she officially opened her bakery in Jeddah.

Sometimes customers even send pictures or pieces of dessert to Kutbi asking her to recreate their favorite foods.
Another Jeddah-based bakery thriving on the internet is Ganache. Run by Anas Khashoggi, 58, and Jamila Ali Islam, 48, the pastry business has been operating for almost 20 years.
Khashoggi supported his wife after spotting her talent for baking and took a leap of faith by giving up his job and starting an online bakery.
“At that time, there was no social media, but we made an introductory website, which helped us gain popularity,” he said. That was in 1996, and the couple’s first store opened later the same year.
“Ganache has its own unique spirit as a family business, and it is run by Saudi youth who are managing the bakery and understand the Saudi market. The family committee is the one that approves the products,” added Khashoggi.