GAMBIER — The Governor’s Ball for the Academy Awards Dinner in Los Angeles this Sunday will have a local flavor. Senior Executive Chef Walter Miller with AVI Foodsystems at Kenyon College will be one of 10 chefs and a staff of 400 that will help Wolfgang Puck prepare the evening’s feast.
For 17 of the past 22 years, Puck has been in charge of the dinner, held after the Academy Awards ceremonies. The dinner will host 1,500 guests including award winners. For Miller this will be the third year out of the last four he has participated in the event. A scheduling conflict prevented him from participating last year.
Miller says he is excited about the opportunity even though it’s his third time around. He got the gig through a former employer who had partnered with Wolfgang Puck Catering.
“I made contact with the company about the job,” he said. “Eventually, I was interviewed by a couple of their (Puck’s) corporate chefs. Then Wolgang’s assistant interviewed me and told me ‘Sure. Come on out.’ That was four years ago. Ever since they would e-mail me about coming out every year.”
Miller said he will be working with about 10 other chefs, another 30 assistant and sous chefs, and a total staff of about 400. His duties will be to help with this year’s menu of vegetable risotto paella and roasted Dover sole with fennel and olives.
“There will be a lot of prepping, getting stuff ready,” Miller explained. “Then Sunday we will come in early and execute the menu.”
Miller said he works as a volunteer but it is worth it for the experience.
Miller said working with Puck is interesting.
“He schmoozes a lot,” he said. “But in the end, he tastes everything before it goes out the door.”
As executive chef, Miller has many duties at Kenyon.
“At Kenyon, I oversee all the culinary operations,” he said. “I oversee the direct food service whether it be catering, the daily board operations and the work schedule. I have a couple of chefs who work under me.”
Miller has worked at Marietta College and in Franklin Country at the Columbus Country Club before coming to Kenyon with AVI Foodsystems.
“I attended Hocking College and got my degree in culinary arts and hotel restaurant management,” he said. “I started out washing dishes and worked my way up.”
Miller grew up in Tiffin and now resides in Mount Vernon.