The Food Film Festival is an annual event enjoying its eighth year in NYC. The festival runs over several days, and features a series of short films focused on various specialty foods from different cuisines, styles and chefs, with food service throughout the screenings so that attendees can taste simultaneously what they are seeing on screen. It’s one of the prime festivals for foodies, as destination restaurants are often represented together with their master chefs at one big tasting. I attended the “I <3 (heart) Japan” and the “Food Porn Party” events, the latter of which was one of the most fun times I’ve had this year.
The star of “I <3 Japan” was Chef Keizo Shimamoto, who was visiting from Tokyo and creating his ramen of world-renown for the first time in the U.S. As touted in one of the shorts featured, “Ramen Dreams”, he is a ramen enthusiast – although that might be understating the chef’s habit of eating on average 2 bowls a day (the film clarifies he’s eaten 600 bowls in a year). Besides food service in the theater, the main lobby hosted eats from local restaurants like the east village’s Otafuku – which brought their takoyaki (octopus dough) – a delicious comfort / street food reminiscent of hushpuppies. The event’s featured liquor was Hibiki 12-year blended whiskey, which has a smooth taste with notes of anise and fruit. Both new and familiar tastes in Japanese cuisine were showcased in the parties surrounding the films.
The “Food Porn Party” the following evening was an even larger spectacle with burlesque dancers, live music, and the presentation of the awards for the films. Guests were treated to decadent foods concentrated into rich little snacks like foie gras with beet gelée push-ups (from David Burke), freshly fried oysters, and bite-sized bacon-wrapped filet mignon. Iron Chef competitor Amanda Cohen brought her genius “tomato cake” creation which employed some culinary physics to transform the tomato three ways. It was sublime. I’ll be attempting a reservation at her wildly popular restaurant, Dirt Candy, which she informed me, was booked through December already.
Pure entertainment prevailed throughout the films and the general atmosphere, adding to the attendees’ well-shared appreciation of food and the chefs that make it. The Food Film Festival next hits Chicago mid-November.
To learn more about The Food Film Festival, visit their website.