Helena Baker, AIWS
Helena Baker was born in Prague, however she has spent over 26 years living abroad, in Great Britain, Monaco, Germany, Switzerland, Portugal and France. She first sniffed and swirled the good French wines in the officers' mess of the M/Y Malahne (Hollywood film producer Sam Spiegel's yacht) anchored at Monaco harbour in the 1970's and later took an active interest during her studies at the Institut Français du Royaume Uni in London where, with three colleagues, she was part of the Society for Discerning Tipplers, which held tastings of wines from around the world. Her next studies were with the Wine and Spirit Education Trust in London, achieving the much sought-after WSET Diploma. She also holds an official certificate of Sherry Educator, granted by Consejo Regulador in Jerez, having successfully passed the written and practical examinations on the subject of sherry.
Helena currently resides in the Czech Republic, where she writes and translates books on wine, food and travel in both English and Czech. She also contributes to a number of journals and newspapers. She is a member of FIJEV (International Federation of Wine Writers), Czech Travel Press (previously known as ATcheT) and the Syndicate of Journalists of the Czech Republic. As an experienced taster she has been regularly invited to judge at international wine competitions and she is featured in the book "Guía de Catadores Internacionales" published in Madrid. To this day she sat on the tasting panel, often presiding individual juries, at more than 100 wine contests in France, Belgium, Italy, Spain, Portugal, Hungary, Moldova, Poland, Luxembourg, The Netherlands, Monaco, Brazil, Argentina, Chile, Uruguay, South Africa and elsewhere, including a host of contests in the Czech Republic as well as Slovakia. After her return to Prague she was asked to join the committee of The Prague Wine Society as a consultant. She is also a founding member of the Slow Food Convivium in the Czech Republic and the Ladies of Wine, a circle of women connected to the wine trade. Her vinous knowledge of the Loire valley has led to her being "knighted" as a Chevalier du Cléray in 1998 and later becoming a member of other European orders, such as Chaîne des Rôtisseurs, Die Europäische Weinritterschaft and Chevalier-Sabreur of the Confrérie du Sabre d'Or of Champagne. She is a regular contributor to specialised wine and gastronomic books, such as Hugh Johnson's Pocket Wine Guide, the Oxford Companion to Wine by Jancis Robinson, World Atlas of Wine by Hugh Johnson and Jancis Robinson, the Global Encyclopedia of Wine or Hachettes's 1000 Vins du Monde and writes her own regular Pocket Guide to the Wines and Winemakers of the Czech Republic which has been published regularly since 1999. She has been translating the yearly Pocket Wine Book by Hugh Johnson since 2003 and apart from that she also published a book on Italian wines and her own recipe collection Coq au Vin (both in 2005), 100 White Wines, 100 Red Wines of the Czech Republic (both in 2006) and a Guide to the Wine Sub-Region of Slovácko (2008) published in Czech as well as in English. She also consults for the popular culinary TV series Lads in action (http://www.klucivakci.cz/) featuring two dynamic young chefs and recommends wines for their eponymous books, website and DVDs (you can watch an episode filmed at her house featuring her recipes from Coq au Vin by clicking on http://www.ceskatelevize.cz/vysilani/10084897100-kluci-v-akci/207562221900023-17.09.2007-18:15-kohout-na-vine.html). She co-authored several of the books associated with this hugely successful television series which were published by the Czech TV Editions between 2006 and 2009 (Kluci v akci I, II, III, IV, special Valentine´s day edition, as well as two travelogues packed with regional recipes and photographs shot on locations in Andalusia and Italy) and recently started contributing with her wine guide and wine recommendations to their own magazine. In the English-language weekly The Prague Post she has a regular monthly drinks column (see http://www.praguepost.com/night-and-day/restaurants/11944-wine-review-polish-pleasures.html).
John Law Baker
John L. Baker was born in Caernarvon, Wales but was primarily brought up in Sudan, England and India. He was educated at Glengorse Preparatory School in Battle, Sussex, St. Paul's School Darjeeling in the Himalayas, Milton Abbey in Dorset, England and the Mangold Institute in Madrid. After a spell living in Spain and France, he graduated from the London Film School. This led to his working as film editor on various films and television programmes, including documentaries for Channel Four such as one on a battling Russian priest Father Oleg; Madagascar - an island of ghosts, a film on the catastrophic ecological situation in northern Madagascar for Anglia TV's long-running Survival wildlife slot; language series for the BBC TV Discovering Portuguese and Diez Temas as well as weekly current affairs and regional news programmes for BBC Belfast and Anglia Television Norwich.
In 1991, along with Helena, he moved to Normandy and, since 1995, has resided in the Czech Republic, where he has dedicated his working time to writing and journalism, both in the field of fiction and journalism on the food and wine theme. He is also a member of Czech Travel Press (formerly ATcheT), a licensed taster, holder of certificate ISO 8586 in the Czech Republic and sits on the tasting panel at many important international wine competitions, not only in the Czech and Slovak Republics, but also at distinguished events such as those in France, Italy, Spain, Portugal or Poland.
Together John and Helena Baker write fiction under the pseudonym of Isabelle Klein - see Creative Writing
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