Craft cocktails. Lobster. ‘1,000-Calorie Gratin.’ Opulence will reign at Emmys’ Governors Ball

It doesn’t take much to get it: One decadent, dopamine-releasing spoonful of the pot de crème fashioned for the evening by chocolatiers from Lindt, topped by a tiny “gold bar” decoration (sprayed with edible gold, of course).

“This is why they hate us,” says a nattily dressed attendee, smiling wickedly.

At the press preview for the 71st Emmy Awards Governors Ball, mind-boggling Hollywood opulence is on full display. The L.A. Live Event Deck is usually rooftop parking space, but for the second year in a row, it’s transformed by a black tent the size of nine NBA courts into the official after-party for TV’s big night.

“The television industry has just exploded since I’ve been doing this event,” says Cheryl Cecchetto of Sequoia Productions. “Look at the talent that comes to the winners’ circle to have their Emmys personalized,” she says, referring to an area toward the back of the space. “It’s off the chart. It’s a complete crossover. It used to be ‘Television. Movies. Music.’ It’s not anymore. It’s all mixed. So the growth has been phenomenal, and we’ve grown from a sit-down dinner.”
This year’s theme is “Brilliance in Motion”: sofas and love seats upholstered in custom low-sheen velvet; tables are adorned with orchids, their leaves painted gold, and roses, their petals peeled back to show off the inner buds. Three gigantic “chandeliers” with concentric circles of silk-string curtains and 76,680 crystals, hang from the ceiling. The canopy they form radiates gradations of the event’s palette: coral, red, eggplant, magenta and, of course, “Emmy gold.”


A sneak peek at this year’s Governors Ball

“There’s 500 miles of string,” Cecchetto says (507.13, to be exact), explaining that, once fans are turned on, the strings would undulate to suggest water — as if there were an upside-down fountain, set off by the black background, above partygoers’ heads.

Even the drinks are color-coordinated. Renowned mixologist Charles Joly and his team crafted a selection of bespoke Ketel One cocktails. The Dapper Dragon (which one assumes will quench the thirst of the “Game of Thrones” clan) boasts lemon, lime, coconut, papaya, cardamom and dragon fruit for both its taste and its magenta hue. The Marvelous Mule (with “Mrs. Maisel” likely in mind) is a Moscow mule variant with an infusion of flavors such as turmeric and lemongrass. Joly uses eyedroppers to measure out the peach bitters and … saline solution?

Award-winning bartender Charles Joly makes the Dapper Dragon, a cocktail made with Ketel One vodka.
(Christina House/Los Angeles Times)

“This one is actually saltwater,” he explains. “Just like a chef would add salt or pepper to season your food to brighten the flavors, here you’d taste no salt in the cocktail; it just enhances the flavor.”

The food ranges from the health-conscious Southern California fare one would expect to diet-be-damned indulgences. That means 175 pounds each of Maine lobster and yellowtail sashimi; 630 pounds of aged white cheddar cheese and 410 pounds of Gruyere; and 3,520 chocolate-chip cookies.

There are sliders made with Beyond Meat patties and “vegan island” sauce, candy-striped beet poke, “street corn” ravioli, and caramelized Japanese eggplant. (See? It’s more than just a color.)

Then there’s the succulent “hand-carved Cape Grim grass-fed tenderloin of beef” with red wine sauce. To accompany it, chef Joachim Splichal, founder of Patina Catering, recommends the white cheddar potato dish he calls “1,000-Calorie Gratin.”

The Lindt Chocolate Pot de Créme.
(Christina House/Los Angeles Times)

“It’s cooked in butter and cream. It’s perfect.... We have organic stuff, we have vegan, we have low-fat; it’s all there. But this is 1,000 calories.”

Beside it is a bowl of bits of smoked bacon: “To make it a little bit fattier, we add lardons to it,” Splichal says gleefully.

Sofas by Living Spaces, which is partnering with the Television Academy to donate the furniture to the Hollywood Community Housing Corp. and Habitat for Humanity of Greater Los Angeles.
(Christina House/Los Angeles Times)

But before you ready the guillotine, there’s a twist: The furniture for the ball, including those low-sheen velvet sofas, is headed for new homes. The Television Academy and Living Spaces partnered to donate it to Habitat for Humanity of Greater Los Angeles and the Hollywood Community Housing Corp.

Co-chair Brenda Brkušić Milinkovic, a nine-time Emmy winner and director of programming and development at NBCUniversal, says that those us who can’t get a ticket to the Governors Ball will be able to purchase some of the furniture in resale stores. That way, Angelenos can “have some of this Emmy elegance in their homes. And it benefits both of these organizations.”