After all the drama that’s sure to mark the 89th Academy Awards on Feb. 26, 1,500 guests will leave the ceremony and begin a “magical transformation” at the Ray Dolby Ballroom. That’s the theme of this year’s Governor’s Ball, the Academy’s official post-Oscars celebration. With a mid-century modern aesthetic and red, white and gold palette, Oscar winners and nominees will be able to kick off their heels and enjoy an evening of decadence in a most luxurious environment.
Journalists joined event producer Cheryl Cecchetto and chef Wolfgang Puck (Academy governor Jeffrey Kurland was away on “Mission Impossible” business) Thursday at a press preview for a taste of what’s to come.
“If you want to eat five potatoes with caviar, we’ll give you five potatoes with caviar,” Puck said. “If you want to eat braised short ribs or chicken pot pie, or you like Kobe sliders or it’s just one of our pizzas, whatever you like, we have it for you.”
Guests expect some of Puck’s traditional specialties, but each year there are new dishes to sample. This year’s include gold-dusted popcorn, sweet pea falafel, taro root tacos with shrimp and mango, spice gougeres with black truffle dust, lobster corn dogs and parsnip agnolotti. It takes a lot of fish and cheese to feed that many guests: 3,500 miso tuile cones, 15 pounds of truffles, 350 pounds of Atlantic tuna, 7,500 shrimp, 2,375 pretzels, 4,250 pieces of handmade gnoccetti and 150 pounds of arugula. And don’t forget the Oscar-shaped smoked salmon matzos.
Dessert stations will offer lava cakes, red velvet waffles, and a chocolate buffet with treats including caramel cappucino Oscar lollipops and bonbons in movie theater flavors like Sour Patch Kids.
The decor transformation begins in a foyer dripping in red with hints of gold, laid out dramatically with red flowers and tablecloths and splashes of white dotting the tables where guests can enjoy whisky cocktails from Hilhaven Lodge or Piper-Heidsieck champagne poured from limited edition magnum bottles (each guest will take one home). Francis Ford Coppola Winery created two specialty wines, the Director’s Cut Russian River Valley chardonnay and Sonoma County red, labeled with art designed by the director. Mark’s Garden provides the more than 10,000 blooms, including burgundy amaryllis, red parrot tulips, white hyacinth, tiger anemone, white dubium and many more.
Then, guests will enter the “soothing, seductive, very calming” and almost heavenly scene of the ballroom. The walls, tables and chairs are dramatically draped in 1,800 yards of white satin, white sequins, white/gold metallic print, and white dot sateen cotton linens, in addition to the burnt red silk and red rouge velvet from the foyer.
Performers include JoJo, DJ M.O.S and DJ Kiss, Rickey Minor and recent Grammy singer Cynthia Erivo.
Cecchetto, who has planned the Governor’s Ball for more than 25 years, adds that she was tasked with designing a “clean, simple palette that’s inviting.” With blocked swaths of color and sculptural, no-frill flower bouquets, the embellishment comes mainly from small details and the menu of more than 35 dishes from chef Wolfgang Puck.