Beverly Hilton Chef Dishes on Busy Awards Season

Beverly Hilton
Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images

Chris O'Connell on unusual requests and full plates at gala gatherings

Here’s a pickle: How do you satisfy today’s smartphone-backed food photography culture when you’re serving some of the pickiest eaters? It’s part of the job for Chris O’Connell.

The executive banquet chef for the Beverly Hilton Hotel oversees the kitchen for the industry-favorite hotel’s awards events; He wants vegans and gluten-free eaters have more than steamed veggies and is prepared to satisfy unusual requests (Filet Mignon with American cheese? Done.). But these challenges aren’t bested just with improvisation. O’Connell says menu planning takes two-and-a-half days for some awards and he’s there up to 14 hours the day of the event.

And no, he’s not upset if the dishes come back full after the ceremony. “People at awards shows people just like to nibble,” he says.

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