Culinary students working the post-Oscars Governors Ball on Sunday night say there is only one star they are there to please, and it isn't George Clooney.
More than 80 student chefs will be looking to Wolfgang Puck as they prepare food for 1,600 members of the Hollywood elite.
In fact, star-gazing is strictly forbidden. "We have a ton of food to prepare!" Puck said from the main kitchen of his Hollywood & Highland Center base of operations.
Students like Sofia Hernandez, from Pasadena's California School of Culinary Arts, started Wednesday, cleaning chickens and making the sesame cone for Puck's signature tuna cones.
"I probably made 200 of them," she said. "That's one thing you learn for sure: speed."
Wolfgang Puck Catering has been working with students for events including the Emmys and the Grammys for more than a decade.
"It's pretty chaotic. You're like a pingpong ball getting everything done," said Christian Bolanos, a 45-year-old California School of Culinary Arts student from Nicaragua, who has 10 Wolfgang gigs under his cutting board.
Getting the attention of Puck, who is said to run a tight ship on the big night, and his executive chef, Matt Bencivenga, isn't impossible. "If they love to work, that shines through every time," Puck said.
Eighteen-year-old culinary student Sarah Keys was offered a job at Spago, where she's graduated from prep to soups, salads and appetizers, after working several Wolfgang Puck Catering events and an Emmys party.
Her tasks included making crab cakes, cleaning hundreds of lobsters and frying shrimp.
"You're not there to clean dishes," Keys said.
Puck said he was asked to scale down his lavish menu, which in the past has included filet mignon and lobster. "This year, they say nothing too crazy, so I give them meat and potato. I give them mac 'n' cheese," he said.
But students aren't getting shortchanged by the menu's simplicity. They'll be working with Snake River Farms Wagyu beef. That baked potato is wrapped in gold leaf and topped with $89-an-ounce Tsar Nicoulai caviar. And Puck's version of mac 'n' cheese comes dressed with black truffles.