If you thought PBR-battered cod wasn’t for the beau monde, Friday night at the third-annual Food Film Festival disproved your theory. The New York-based event returned to Kendall College over the weekend, and this Wisconsin-bred gal was chomping at the bit for a taste of the fish fry-themed soiree.
The Food Film Festival is an annual pairing of short films and featured foods. This year’s offering saw an avocado takedown and an ode to Scottish whiskey, but it was the fried fish film on Friday night that caught my eye—and my appetite.
George Motz (the filmmaker behind the lauded Hamburger America film and book) and Harry Hawk (a chef, formerly of Schnack and Water Taxi Beach) regaled a crowd of gastro-geeks with four quirky short films: Mickle’s Pickles, the tale of a spunky Mississippian and his never-ending quest to catch whomever keeps pilfering his giant pickle sign; Perogy!, a sweet story about blue-haired Ukrainian pierogi-makers in Canada; Fish Fry Night Milwaukee, a documentary that ably captured (awesome accents and all) the mystique surrounding my fellow cheeseheads’ Friday-night ritual of partaking in beer-battered whitefish; and the grand finale, Mama Sugar’s Sweet Potato Cobbler, a tale of a sweet old Southern belle and her triple-crusted cobblers.
There were small tastings of each foodstuff during their respective films, with samples traveling by the trayfull through the rows of the theatre-style classroom. In the end, I was ravenous for a heaping platter of fried fish, and to my delight, the after party delivered unlimited tastings. Along with live polka-music (courtesy of the sprightly gents who played John Candy’s bandmates, The Kenosha Kickers, in Home Alone), more pierogies, Mickle himself peddling $10 jars of pickles, and Hoosier Mama’s Paula Haney and Craig Siegelin dishing up delightfully indulgent sweet potato cobbler à la mode.
Photograph: Troy L. Amber