A Taste of BAFTA – Preview of the Awards Ceremony:
We’ve all heard of BAFTA, but I suspect most people, like me, have little understanding of everything that BAFTA does. Of course, there are various annual awards. Next Sunday, 10th February is the main award ceremony – the EE British Academy Film Awards. Hosted by Joanna Lumley, the 72nd BAFTAs will be held on 10 February 2019 at the Royal Albert Hall in London. You can find the full list of nominations here, this year’s list includes Rami Malek for Bohemian Rhapsody, Green Book for best film and Margot Robbie for Mary Queen of Scots.
While the BAFTA film awards are the highlight of the year for most of us, BAFTA itself does a lot more. There are TV and Games awards later in the year and, the organisation is a charity with the mission to “support, develop and promote the art forms of the moving image, by identifying and rewarding excellence, inspiring practitioners and benefiting the public”. In addition to the awards, they also offer a number of scholarship programmes across the UK, US and Asia, writing competitions and networking services. And, a global programme of live events and screenings.
I was invited along to JW Marriott Grosvenor House on Park Lane to join some of the BAFTA Academy Circle members at a ‘Taste of BAFTAs’ event and learn more about what would come next Saturday. One of London’s best-loved historic hotels Grosvenor House was originally built in the 1920s and opened in 1929. It’s the perfect setting for the BAFTAs awards dinner which will be held in The Great Room which was originally an ice rink where Queen Elizabeth II learnt to ice skate! After a Taittinger champagne reception ( Tattinger are the official champagne providers for the awards themselves), there was a Q & A session with Jonathan Pryce.
An actor I know best from the stage, in the mid-1980s he took the lead part in the RSC production of Macbeth, opposite Sinéad Cusack as Lady Macbeth. He’s well known for his film roles in blockbusters like Pirates of the Caribbean, the Game of Thrones and most recently, The Wife (his co-star Glenn Close is a BAFTA nomination this year). A fascinating insight into the ever-evolving world of moving image, Pryce focussed on the changing dynamic between Stage, Film and TV from an actor’s perspective.
The preview event was a chance to taste the food and sample the wine that will be enjoyed by BAFTA guests at next week’s celebration. And, to get a peek at the stunning table settings. There will be 5 different table pieces each taken from a Film that has been nominated.
A starter of house-cured Scottish salmon, Devonshire crab, dill pickled cucumber, beetroot and horseradish cream. Deliciously firm and lightly cured salmon complemented by a subtle piquant Devonshire crab remoulade.
We didn’t see the Vegetarian/vegan starter, but the salad of grains with Kohlrabi and apple salad sounded delicious.
The main course, a roast breast of guinea fowl, celeriac and truffle puree, confit guinea fowl leg – a classic and elegantly presented dish that was full of flavour. My taster left me looking for more!
The veggie option sounds pretty impressive too – a wild mushroom and chestnut croustillant with caramelized onion puree. Again, the option is vegan-friendly.
Dessert, a clementine and yuzu delice was a beautiful and delicate dessert with a light pomegranate gel and an almond crunch wafer.
A range of Villa Maria wines from New Zealand was served. The most awarded vineyard in New Zealand, family owned Villa Maria was founded by George Gistonich in 1961. And of course, there was more Tattinger Champagne.
We also enjoyed an assortment of canapes courtesy of Nespresso, each with a coffee theme.
I was impressed. Although we were only previewing the food that will be served on the night, both BAFTAs own executive chef, Anton Manganaro and Grosvenor House executive chef, Paul Bates were on hand to check that everything was perfect.
I was fascinated to learn more about the BAFTA Academy Circle from some of the other guests at the reception. I’d never really considered how organisations like BAFTA are funded. Sponsorship and partnerships play a major part and I was there as a guest of Tattinger and Villa Maria Wines. BAFTA Academy Circle is the individual membership organisation behind BAFTA and many of the guests at the event were part of the Academy Circle. BAFTA receives no government funding and relies on donations, sponsorships and their membership organisation to fund their work.
If you’d like to know more about the work of BAFTA do check their website. And, don’t forget to watch this year’s BAFTAs, next Sunday 10th February at 9 pm on BBC1
Disclosure: I was invited to attend this event as a guest of Tattinger Champagne and Villa Maria Wines. All content is editorially given.