If you’re alive on the planet, you’ve seen or heard the news about the acceptance speech that Joaquin Phoenix, 45,  gave Sunday evening, January 5, after receiving the Golden Globe award for Best Actor in a Motion Picture – Drama for the movie Joker. He thrilled plant-based partisans around the world with his praise for the evening’s first-ever all-vegan dinner for the ceremony attendees, saying:

“I’d like to thank the Hollywood Foreign Press [Association] for recognizing and acknowledging the link between animal agriculture and climate change. It’s a very bold move making tonight plant-based, and it really sends a powerful message.” 

We thank him for adding his considerable weight to the growing awareness that plant-based is good for you, yes, but also crucial for sustaining life on Earth, which is no longer a long-term, “We’ll-think-about-it-tomorrow” issue.

But a behind-the-scenes drama was almost as compelling as the actor’s speech. You might be surprised to learn that the chef at Los Angeles’ Beverly Hilton Hotel, where the pre-ceremony dinner is held, had to change his act — that is to say, his menu — at nearly a moment’s notice.

Matthew Morgan, Executive Chef at the hotel, had worked with his crew for almost a year planning the dinner menu. They felt confident they were ready. Then, just before Christmas and less than two weeks before the ceremony, he got the word: Different menu, folks! Make the dinner all-vegan! Easy peasy [pun intended], right??

Um, no. But Morgan and his head chef, who would prepare the dinner, rebounded quickly from the shock and got to work. Fortunately, they’d already planned to offer a vegan main dish for those diners who requested it: King Oyster Mushroom Scallops. The problem was that they’d planned it for up to 200 diners. Now they had to be ready in just days to serve the dish to about 1300 high-profile and hungry people!

And they did, overcoming logistical and supply obstacles and turning out a delicious meal. As Chef Morgan said, “They [King mushrooms] are…a hearty, meaty mushroom…with a similar consistency to scallops.” But he also said, in synch with the Hollywood Foreign Press Association’s goal of raising awareness of animal agriculture as a major source of greenhouse gases, “I really believe in what we’re trying to represent and what we’re trying to accomplish — the message that we’re sending.”

So, two outstanding dramas performed in the service of a single, hugely worthy goal.

The Golden Globe Awards don’t include one for Best Performance at a Celebrity Dinner, or at least they didn’t this year. But there’s always next year. As Chef Morgan says, he started planning for that meal as soon as Sunday’s ceremony ended!