Photo Credit, Meital Jacubovich
The idea of mixing food and film is not a new one. Many restaurants have attached themselves to movie theaters and some have even gone so far as to offer a full menu during the movie, but nothing like this. The Food Film Festival, created by Travel Channel’s George Motz, is a truly unique experience that will excite all of your senses. By serving the food that you are watching on screen to the audience while they are watching it brings the term audience participation to a whole new level.
Saturday night’s event included five independent features each of which revolved around a different genre of food. Varying in length from just over a minute to a full hour the films showcased just how much there is to do in the world of food cinema. The short Vegetables: Friend or Foe? was by far the most inventive movie of the night, creating a very 1950s PSA about tomatoes and mushrooms. The writing was fantastic and by the end of the film the entire audience wanted a taste of the two dishes shown in the movie. Each of the dishes that went with the shorts, although only samples, were enough to excite your taste buds. The bacon wrapped fillet could have easily been served at a five star restaurant and was the highlight of the night.
The main event and the longest feature, Whisky: The Islay Edition, was devoted to eight tiny distilleries off the coast of Scotland that each make their own unique version of the alcohol. The documentary gets to the heart of what it means to make whisky while walking the viewer through the finer elements of a tasting. While each distillery was highlighted the audience was treated to a healthy taste of all eight whiskys. It helped to have the film guide the audience through the process noting the aroma and texture in ways few of those attending the show could. It should be noted that even though the shots were small many of them had a kick and by the end of the eighth shot most of the audience was ready to party.
The festival came prepared. Greeting the audience was a foodie paradise after-party that really let each of the dishes shine. Jarlsberg cheese was there to debut its new line of smoked cheeses, which were heavy and rich, but amazing to the last bite. Chef Art Jackson of the Pleasant House Bakery brought out mouthwatering dishes that managed to both innovate and pay homage to the Scottish theme of the night. The lamb mutton stew had many layers of flavor and was well worth getting a second and third helping. Jarlsberg also served its new candied wild hibiscus flowers that tasted like amped up maraschino cherries; they quickly disappeared.
If you consider yourself a foodie or a film fanatic the Food Film Festival, held annually in both New York and Chicago is the event for you. Motz has managed to successfully marry two very unique subcultures into an event that brings out the die-hards in both industries.