When it comes to making a statement at your dinner party, less can often be more. This is certainly true for the Governors’ Balls following the 2012 Prime Time and Technical Arts Emmy Awards presentations. This year’s theme is A Romantic Rhapsody in Red, and the teams behind many other successful post-Emmy parties decided to address a new challenge: how do you make a party for 2,800 to 3,800 of your closest friends inside the gigantic West Hall of the LA Convention Center feel intimate?
by Elyse Glickman
The answer is to stick to varying shades of one dynamic colour that simultaneously reflect sophistication and simplicity. Furthermore, the Romantic Rhapsody in Red theme stems from moods we all can relate to, given the colour represents love, power, health and warmth—all elements that happen to tie into many of the television shows and performances honoured at this year’s ceremony. Though the impact of strategically placed panels of fabric hanging from the ceiling and 200,000 fresh-cut roses are going to make a big impact as guests enter and circulation, “the blossom” effect is something that can be brought to life for any size Emmy house party.
Best set design
Given that red also happens to be a popular colour for winter holidays, how do you create the look and balance that will say ‘Emmys’ instead of ‘Merry Christmas’ or ‘Happy Valentine’s Day’? The way Cheryl Cecchetto and designers at Sequoia Productions devised the Governors’ Ball was to use the colour to evoke sophistication and simplicity. Just as the red accents and statement canvases at the balls integrate texture, you can copy the effect at home by draping red tablecloths, throw pillows, curtains, table runners and napkins with slightly different hues and textures.
Crate & Barrel, Pier One, Cost Plus World Market and Target are all great places to build your new red wardrobe, though select your pieces with care and restraint. If you must add touch of sparkle, don’t get too blinged out, or it may start feeling a lot like Christmas.
Once your own red “canvas” is in place, set off the look with strategically placed bouquets of red roses in various (non-matching) vases as LA Première Floral Event Design will to produce arrangements that can then be adorned with candles and even a cleverly placed gold “Emmy”-type statue. From there, you can work in red or red-accented plates, glasses and serving pieces for the food you will prepare (see below). No Emmy party should be without a gift bag, so be sure to have some artistically arranged fabric bags (that can be reused) by the door filled with red candles, candy and, if you are ambitious, home-baked cookies that spell out E-M-M-Y.
Best art direction
Before and after you set your stage and transform your home into a blooming masterpiece, there are some other things Cecchetto and Patina’s Director of Catering Melissa Darpino advise you do to keep the production thoroughly A-list.
- Send out an Emmy-themed Evite card to your own VIP guests to set the tone. Use Emmy key art for inspiration, and select a design where the colour red plays a leading role.
- On the invitations, encourage your guests to choose Primetime Emmy winners before the show via the Emmy party ballot that the Television Academy posts on their website, www.emmys.com. The guest who selects the most winners correctly wins a prize. Alternatively, you can print out ballots for guests to fill out during the Red Carpet pre-show (7 p.m. EDT/4 p.m. PDT) hors d’œuvres. Prize ideas can include a nominee TV series DVD, a cookbook by Chef Joachim Splichal, (of Patina Catering, the exclusive caterer of the Governors’ Ball), a bottle of Beaulieu Vineyard Georges de Latour Private Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon (the official wine sponsor), a bottle of Grey Goose Vodka Cherry Noir (the official spirits sponsorl) or, yes, the centrepiece red rose floral arrangement.
- To set the tone for during the pre-show phase of your gala, contact your musical director (Itunes) to put together a compilation of your favourite TV show theme songs.
- Encourage your guests to wear black tie formal attire accessorized with the colour red. With a younger crowd, ask guests to come dressed as their favourite character on TV and offer prizes for most creative, funniest, or most dramatic.
- Wait until a half-hour before broadcast to bring out the room temperature foods such as antipasti, salad and finger foods.
- Keep the party going! Since it ends at 8 p.m. on the west coast, have DVDs or stream some of the nominated shows (comedies are best to keep the vibe upbeat) to view after the awards are given out.
The opening number: the Emmy cocktail
Though Ron Patric and Randy Evans have rolled out some pretty spectacular cocktails in the past, this year’s star cocktail gets the red carpet spotlight thanks to the fact that its key ingredient is Grey Goose Cherry Noir, the first new flavour from Grey Goose Vodka in five years. This sensual new flavour folds in rare black cherries from the French Basque Country, bringing sweetness and richness to cocktails as well as perfectly complementing this year’s Governors’ Ball décor theme and your own celebration of the small screen’s finest.
1½ oz Grey Goose Cherry Noir
1 oz St Germain
½ oz fresh lemon juice
½ oz pomegranate juice
Combine all ingredients in a shaker except the champagne. Shake vigorously and strain into a champagne flute. Top with champagne and garnish with a black cherry.
The prime-time awards
For the 17th year, chef and Patina founder Joachim Splichal has produced and directed a fine culinary team, helmed by executive chef Alec Lester, executive culinary director Gregg Wiele and executive pastry chef Philippe Muze to not only execute the dinner for the world’s largest intimate dinner party, but also make the technical tweaks so you can produce them in your own kitchen.
Best lead-in performance
Smoked salmon and avocado salad with hearts of palm, cucumber, apple, red radish and heirloom tomato vinaigrette. Serves four.
1 cup Scottish cold smoked salmon, thinly sliced
Hass avocado, peeled, halved and sliced
½ cup hearts of palm, sliced into eighth-inch rings
½ cup hot house cucumber, peeled, seeded, cut into quarter-inch half moons
½ cup Granny Smith apple, peeled, cored and cut into half-inch dice
½ cup red radish, cut into thin rings
½ cup heirloom tomato, ripe, cut into quarter-inch dice
¼ cup white balsamic vinegar
¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
Salt and fresh ground black pepper to taste
Prepare the vinaigrette by combining the diced heirloom tomatoes, olive oil, vinegar, salt and pepper. Set aside.
To serve: on four plates, arrange the smoked salmon and avocado slices. Garnish with the hearts of palm, cucumber, apple and red radish. Drizzle with the tomato vinaigrette just before serving.
More chef tips
• Substitute canned hearts of palm if fresh is unavailable.
• Purchase your smoked salmon pre-sliced and without bones to save time.
• Pre-cut your vegetables up to one hour before serving. Remember to toss your cut apples with fresh lemon juice to prevent browning.
• This vinaigrette is a chunky “broken” vinaigrette which means the oil and vinegar are not intended to be emulsified.
Supporting cast (wine pairings)
Beaulieu Vineyard Carneros Chardonnay or Beaulieu Vineyard Coastal Estate Chardonnay.
Best variety programming
Roasted tenderloin of beef with balsamic grilled Portobello “fries”, wilted baby spinach and sunchoke purée (serves four).
4 8 oz filet mignon steaks, pan seared and oven roasted to medium rare
4 large portabello mushrooms, cleaned, de-stemmed and cut into half-inch strips
3/8 cup aged balsamic vinegar
3/8 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 lb baby spinach, lightly sautéed in half-ounce olive oil
1 lb sunchokes, peeled and poached in milk until fork-tender
¼ cup butter, unsalted
Salt and fresh ground black pepper to taste.
For the mushrooms: marinate Portobello strips in balsamic vinegar and olive oil for 30 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Grill over medium fire until tender and grill marks form. Keep warm. Reserve marinating liquid.
For the sunchokes: remove sunchokes from poaching milk. While still hot, purée the sunchokes in a blender with butter, salt and pepper. Slowly add enough of the poaching milk to form a silky puree consistency.
To serve: on four plates, arrange steak, sunchoke purée and grilled Portobello fries on plate. Garnish with the wilted spinach and drizzle with remaining mushroom marinade.
More chef tips:
• After roasting your steaks, let rest for at least eight minutes before serving to let the juices settle.
• The sunchoke purée should have the consistency somewhere between mashed potatoes and béchamel sauce. Adjust the amount of poaching milk you add to the blender to achieve the perfect consistency.
• Spinach only takes seconds to cook properly. Be sure to preheat the pan and take care not to overcook.
Supporting cast (wine pairings):
Beaulieu Vineyard Georges de Latour Private Reserve or BV Rutherford
Best musical score—dessert
White chocolate raspberry cake with fresh picked raspberry, raspberry sauce, mint sauce, raspberry macaroon lollipop (serves four).
For vanilla sponge cake: ingredients
4 large eggs
2 cup sugar
1 tsp vanilla paste
1 cup milk
¼ cup butter
2 cup all-purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
¼ tsp salt
Sift together flour, baking powder, salt and set aside. Whip egg at medium speed in a kitchen aid with paddle (approximately four minutes). Add the sugar and continue to whip until light and fluffy texture (approximately five minutes). Add the vanilla and mix. Add the sifted dry product and mix till blended. Heat milk and butter together and add to batter; beat until combined. Pour batter onto greased and floured quarter sheet tray. Bake at 325°F for 12–15 minutes. Let cool and wrap to keep humidity.
More chef tips
• For the texture, it’s better to pre-make the sponge cake one day prior.
• Parchment paper can also be used in lieu of greasing a baking sheet.
• Use a toothpick to check if the sponge cake is fully baked
For the vanilla syrup: ingredients
1½ oz water
¼ cup sugar
1 drop vanilla paste
Bring to boil water and sugar. Add the vanilla paste and let cool.
For the white chocolate mousse: ingredients
4/5 cup melted white chocolate
1/3 cup heavy cream
2 egg yolks
1/5 cup sugar
1 1/3 cup heavy cream
2 sheets gelatin
Bloom the gelatin in ice water and reserve until needed. Bring heavy cream to boil. Add the white chocolate to the cream and combine with a hand blender. Set aside white chocolate ganache. In a kitchen aid, whip the egg yolks at medium speed. Bring sugar and water to 249°F and pour into the whipped egg yolk mixture. Whip egg mixture at fast speed and let cool. Melt the bloomed gelatin in the microwave, and mix with the pâté à bombe. Add the white chocolate ganache and mix. To serve, cut the sponge cake into 6 oz rings and stack using the vanilla syrup. Pour the white chocolate mousse over the top of the cake; only cover half the tower. Add two fresh picked raspberries as garnish.
More chef tips
Use fresh raspberry sauce and mint sauce as decorative additions to your plate along with fresh picked raspberries. Raspberry macaroon lollipops can be purchased at many local bakeries. These make a wonderful secondary feature to the overall dessert.
Best supporting player for dessert
Beaulieu Vineyard Muscat de Beaulieu.