We are on to the second half of my Chicago weekend getaway, which happens to be the main purpose for my visit, The Chicago Food and Film Festival.
A short background story; a few months ago, I was looking into freelance opportunities with some bigger name magazine sources and came across Bon Appetite’s call for the Food and Film Festival. Not knowing entirely what this all entailed, I decided to throw a pitch and was contacted shortly after. The Food and Film Festival hit NYC back in October, and I originally would have signed up for that location, but I was inMexicoat the same. Thankfully, it was coming to Chicago a few weeks later and I was 100% on board.
The festival, directed by George Motz, award winning documentary filmmaker, showcases the best of the world’s favorite foods through short films and documentaries. It serves as a multisensory experience by allowing the viewer to taste what he sees on screen. There really is no better way to review this type of experience than to see, smell and taste every aspect.
Aside from a tasty occurrence from passionate foodies, the festival also serves as a competition where awards are presented for: Best Feature, Best Short, Best Super-Short, Best Food Porn, Food Filmmaker of the Year, and the Audience Choice Award. It’s not just about the food too, as a portion of all proceeds are donated to The Food Bank and The Good Food Project.
I was lucky enough to score a spot at the VIP party before the actual films were scheduled. All of the VIP guests were greeted with complementary appetizers, wine, and beer. I made sure to fill a plate to get a small taste of everything as well as a bottle of fresh Ginger Ale.
I wouldn’t normally partake in soda, as I would much rather stick to wine or beer, but the Ginger Ale was calling my name and rightfully so. It was natural, fresh and unusually delicious.
The films began shortly after and we were all seated and given our instructions to sit back, relax, and open up our taste buds to some authentic and exclusive tastings. The first film on tap was Mickle’s Pickle, a nine minute segment on the story of a local pickle shop owner and the comical theft of their beloved pickle icon. Immediately after the show, we were handed a sample-sized cup of Micky’s famous pickles, which were delicious might I add.
Next up was Perogy; a quirky documentary on the evolution of a traditional Ukrainian delicacy. I actually really enjoyed this one, partly because of my acquired heritage from being married into a Ukrainian family. I could relate and appreciate the passion in this film. The perogies that were served to us following the film were not your ordinary potato. If you have yet to experience a fresh, handmade perogy, I suggest you find yourself a Ukrainian mother-in-law (or just borrow mine), and see the difference. It will forever change your perspective.
The main event for the evening and longest film was Fish Fry Night Milwaukee. This 30 minute documentary detailed the history and tradition of the Friday Night Fish Fry and the people who produce them. I usually don’t opt for fried fish, but watching the preparation and result of this dish made me extremely eager to sample. I can attest, this fish was unlike any fish stick I’ve had.
The final show for the night was naturally the sweetest, Mama Sugar’s Sweet Potato Cobbler. With little words, this film let the cooking do the talking as Mama Sugar, a Texas born matriarch, narrates a the creation of a cherished family dish through a visual instruction film. After four minutes of this tantalizing dessert being created on screen, we were more than ready to dig into some cobbler.
Concluding the films, the audience was asked to make their selection of favorite film by using the ballot provided. This also served as our ticket into the lavish after party following the screenings.
We were all directed into a large, beautifully decorated room where even more food, drinks, and entertainment transpired. This party was the icing on the cake and allowed moviegoer’s to converse with the filmmakers, directors and fellow foodies.
I left the night completely inspired and in awe of how compelling and captivating the world of film and food have become. It’s not enough that we simply appreciate food in its tangible state, but we are now able to engage and appreciate the story behind it all.
Check It Out:
Quite an exciting day for me! I was contacted yesterday afternoon with the opportunity to be featured on our local morning news, discussing healthy and afforadable Thanksgiving recipes and tips. The next thing I knew, an entire news crew was camped out in my driveway at 4:30am this morning and ivaded my kitchen as I anchored a live TV segement. What a thrill!