Executive chef Jack Kiggins (pictured right) helms the Ballroom kitchen with Plaza Executive Chef Robb Garceau, churning out food for four food stations in the Palm Court. “The biggest thing is to make sure the food is really fresh, and exciting, and it’s recognizable,” Garceau told us. “Especially at 11 at night, people have had some cocktails in them, so recognizable is so key.”
"This is the calm before the storm," Kiggins said. Preparations began at 11 a.m., and eight cooks mill around the kitchen, slicing cantaloupe, preparing calamari, and dredging chicken in flour to be fried. At around 8:30 p.m., another set of staff will arrive for final preparations.
The Todd English Food Hall at the Plaza, opening all stations for the big event, created more than 900 hand-rolled pastas for guests. At 4:30 p.m., staff members were cleaning the hall and setting up stations.
A worker cuts fresh pasta for butternut squash ravioli. The pasta bar served two pastas created by Todd English, including a beet ravioli with pesto.
The newest addition to the Food Hall concourse, which opened about two weeks ago, includes Luke's Lobster, No. 7 Sub, and Billy's Bakery. Tony Awards afterparty areas were marked off with pink and orange candles, flowers, and tablecloths, so guests could easily navigate the two food halls and the ballroom.
Billy's Bakery lays out their red velvet cupcakes, as well as mini strawberry lemonade cookies. The bakery used more than 8 pounds of frosting for their cupcakes that evening.
Rich Leadbetter, Executive Chef of the Todd English Food Hall, rolls a whole monkfish, stuffed with onion, garlic, and citrus, coated with sea salt and peppercorn, and baked at 300 degrees for 2 hours. The kitchen prepared three whole monkfish for the crowd.
Freshly-shucked oysters and clams are laid out at the raw bar, where Alec Baldwin reportedly set up shop last year. More than 1,000 oysters were purchased for the Tony Awards extravaganza.
The Plaza staff assembles shrimp rolls, ceviche, and dessert platters. More than 40 staff members run through this corridor, which becomes more chaotic throughout the night. "The waitstaff, the stewards, theyre all trying to push the food out through those [kitchen] doors," Garceau said.
Chef Kiggins dips fresh strawberries in chocolate for dessert.
Rows of chocolate-covered strawberries cool off in the Plaza Ballroom Kitchen.
Blueberry-topped miniature cheesecakes, as well as 1,200 red velvet cupcakes, were prepared at 6 a.m. in the morning.
Tables are cleared out and lighting dimmed in the Palm Court, with signature orange and pink hues to follow the color theme.
1,800 gift bags were assembled for guests, each including treats from William Greenberg desserts, Todd English Food Hall, and Pain D'avignon. Sixteen people worked for 6 hours to assemble the bags.
The live band, which played from 11 p.m. to 2 a.m., finishes up soundcheck.
Final touches at the Osteria station on the calamari. The Palm Court housed four food stations total: Osteria, Fiesta, Southern Comfort, and a dessert table.
With most of the food out on the floor, cooks assemble dessert trays in the relatively quiet kitchen.
Doors open at the beginning of the night, with staff members waiting to greet the Broadway stars on their big night.