When is a film festival not a film festival? When it revolves around food. The concept is the brainchild of Travel Channel host George Motz who first created the event in Brooklyn in 2007 and has been spreading the love ever since. The event is truly unlike anything you’ve ever seen, or tasted for that matter. Like a standard film festival patrons sit down to a watch a series of movies by independent and well known filmmakers from around the world. Unlike other festivals however, the main focus of each film is food and an appreciation of it. The next bit is where it gets fun. Rather than simply drool at the delectable items being shown on screen throughout the night the audience is treated to a sample of the subject of each film to taste for themselves while the movie is playing. Each film is relatively short allowing for a unique tasting experience.
While it may have been founded in New York, Motz has taken his show on the road and has now created food film festivals in both Chicago and Charleston, North Carolina. What may have started out as an underground sensation has quickly turned into a hot ticket. This is especially true in Chicago which saw a full house on Saturday, the closing night of the festival. The event brought out Chicago’s foodies in full force hungry for food from around the world. Thankfully Motz knows his demographic and fed the audience quickly well before the films began. Local and imported beer and wine flowed freely as did tremendous meat pies from Art Jackson. Once appetites were wetted it was time to dig in to the multi-sensory celluloid experience.
The film’s themselves ran the gamut from DIY eggplant chutney and the joys of fresh canning to a tour of Ireland’s thriving food community into Small Green Fields. The trout caviar imported right from Ireland was a true treat. One of the best parts of the festival is the filmmakers’ ability to dig up some of the best food in the world and present it to the audience. This allows people to try food that they would not otherwise be able to find or eat and manages to not only educate but expand the horizons of everyone involved. For that alone Motz deserves a medal.
The addition of Mile High Pie, a documentary about the mammoth desserts from Ed & Kay’s restaurant in Benton, Arkansas took things to another level on Saturday night. Sometimes it is hard not to drool while watching the films at the festival and MHP was no exception. While Motz was not able to bring in the owners of restaurant to prepare samples the recipe itself was replicated by Chicago’s Hoosier Mama Pie Co. down to perfection. The towering merengue eclipsed the pie and turned every bite into sweet heaven.
At just over an hour-and-a-half the festival itself is rather short. But that doesn’t mean it has to end. Each night the attendees venture into the after-party for what never fails to be a once in a lifetime experience. Saturday night included an authentic lowcountry shrimp boil with fresh South Carolina shrimp and live bluegrass music. Buckets upon buckets of fresh potatoes, corn and shrimp flowed as guests were encouraged to get their hands dirty. Also on hand were fresh apples and cider, doughnuts and cheese.
By the end of the night Motz had managed to satisfy the mind, body and soul with some of the best food in the world presented to some of the city’s hungriest foodies. The festival continues to gain attention and steam all of which are very well deserved.