"Dinner and a show" is about to take on a whole new meaning. Chicago's fourth annual Food Film Festival kicks off at Kendall College this Wednesday, and the lineup is equal parts wacky and mouthwatering.
Founded in 2007 by filmmaker and burger enthusiast George Motz (of Burger Land fame), the Film Food Festival is simple: audience members view short films about food and cooking while sampling the food featured on-screen. "We try to create a meal in your seat," says Motz. "The first few films will be appetizer-type films, and then it'll be main course, protein-type films, and we'll end the screening block with sweets and desserts."
This year's festival is divided into five loosely thematic events, including a "food porn" party, a sugar-based cook-off, and the Chicago debut of Keizo Shimamoto's ramen burgers. To get an idea of what's in store, Mr. Motz gave his rundown of the most drool-worthy events.
The thing is exactly what it sounds like: a hamburger patty sandwiched between two ramen-noodle buns. "[Michael Fox] made a film about the rise of the Ramen Burger," says Motz. "On opening night, we're showing the short film and serving the Ramen Burger for the first time in Chicago. Keizo Shimamoto, the guy who invented the burger, is going to be with us, serving burgers."
Wednesday, Nov. 20, 6:30 p.m.
"A film that I made about shrimping in the Lowcountry is having its Chicago premiere Saturday night," says Motz. Despite the moment of self-promotion, Motz is quick to turn the spotlight on the film's subjects: "We're bringing in some of the shrimpers and the actual shrimp you see in the film, and having Lowcountry shrimp in the form of a huge Frogmore Stew served to 250 people."
Saturday, Nov. 23, 7:30 p.m.
Motz is far from the only culinary celeb visiting this year's festival. Take Ed Wohl. "He's a woodworker from Wisconsin who's become quite famous for his cutting boards—a few of his designs are in museums," Motz says. "Just for fun, we're auctioning off a signed Ed Wohl cutting board with him on stage." Proceeds benefit the Good Food Project.
Thursday, Nov. 21, 6:30 p.m.
As if an entire evening dedicated to food porn—a la foodgawker.com—isn't risqué enough, Motz and company promise to wrap up Friday's debauchery with a full-on food burlesque. "On food porn night, after you finish watching food porn films, you move into another room and there's a food burlesque show." Pressed as to what that might entail, Motz kept things vague: "If you want to know what food burlesque is, you have to get yourself a ticket and come on down."
Friday, Nov. 22, 6:30 p.m.
This daytime event for the culinarily competitive features 20 chefs and 100 pounds of pure turbinado sugar. "We've invited our friend Matt Timms back," says Motz. "[He] organizes amateur home chefs to make one food item, and they compete in what he calls a 'takedown.' This year, the ingredient is sugar." Be sure to bring your sweet tooth, as the audience helps determine who wins Timms' takedown.
Saturday, Nov. 23, 12 p.m.
The Chicago Food Film Festival runs Wednesday, November 20 to Saturday, November 23 at Kendall College (900 N. North Branch St.). Tickets are available online for $55-$75 per day.