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Oscar’s Event Expert Cheryl Cecchetto Talks Party Planning and Troublesome Koi

Cheryl Cecchetto, producer of the Oscars Governors Ball for the past 25 years, came to Hollywood to be an actress, and ended up overseeing countless parties and benefits. As she and her Sequoia Prods. team prep for the Academy Awards, she’s also celebrating the publication of her coffee-table book “Passion to Create,” peppered with recipes like Wolfgang Puck’s truffled chicken pot pie and Shelley Winters’ marinara sauce, along with anecdotes about working with the stars and plenty of glitzy photos.

What’s more important at a party, the food or the atmosphere?

It’s important to make sure that all the senses are a part of the event — enhance the sense of smell, taste and sound.

What’s changed over the years? Are events less formal?

People don’t want to stay in one spot. They want to mingle. Sit-down dinners are few and far between. People want tables to hang out at, and small plates.

What was one of the biggest snafus at an event?

In 2001, the first year at Hollywood and Highland, round fish tanks were in the middle of each table. Just before the guests arrived, we realized koi were jumping onto the plates. In heels and gowns, we got up on the chairs and fished them all out just in time.

What have you learned from planning events that readers could do at home?

Ask people to leave their phones in a basket at the door, so they can actually talk to each other and relax.

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