Beyond popcorn and candy, the connection between film and food has never been a particularly strong one – without being able to smell or taste food, seeing it on screen has never been particularly appetizing. But, with more and more people being interested in and wanting to see images of celebrity chefs, far-flung Michelin-starred restaurants, street food from remote locales, and the production of ingredients, food and film are becoming closer friends.
The two get mashed-up every year in Wolfville, Nova Scotia at Devour, billed as the world’s largest food and film festival. For most Calgarians, getting to Wolfville isn’t any easier than snagging a reservations at the Danish or South American restaurants depicted in the films that foodies flock to, which is why Devour has set up a series of satellite events, including a mini-festival called Devour: The Canadian Rockies at the Jasper Park Lodge on March 2 through 4.
The weekend includes a number of creative dining experiences (including a “cabin crawl” dinner and a Chili Cookoff Smackdown), cooking demos, and a five-course dinner where chefs – including Calgarians Connie De Sousa and John Jackson (Charcut) and Paul Rogalski (Rouge) – will make dishes inspired by short films, served as the films play in the dining room.
In celebration of all of that – as well as the upcoming Oscars on March 4 – the Calgary chefs participating in the event shared their thoughts about the relationship between food and the cinema:
Do you take inspiration from movies or other art forms when you’re in the kitchen?
John Jackson: “Yes, films inspire both Connie and I in many ways. We’re both really visual people and when we have the ability to see new cultures, places and people through film it opens up the creative chefs mind we both have. It’s like a window into places we have never been or experienced. There is nothing else like it. We also get inspired by several other arts. From music to dance, we welcome all forms of art to help fuel our cravings and inspiration.”
What are some of your favourite food-related movies or TV shows?
Paul Rogalski: “I like Kevin Kossowan’s From the Wild series. I also really like a movie called Nests of Gold that was revealed in Wolfville at Devour. It’s absolutely stunning and tells the story of birds’ nest soup and follows the ingredients though the system to the end user, which is really cool. I like things that are visuals and tell stories about food and ingredients.”
John Jackson: “Ratatouille was so much fun watching with our children and has a good moral to the story – that everyone can cook. Mind of a Chef is also great and, of course all the amazing work of The Perennial Plate, which both Connie have a close relationship to.”
Are the cinematic portrayals of kitchens that you’ve seen fairly realistic?
Paul Rogalski: “I think so. That one with Bradley Cooper in it, Burnt – I remember thinking there was some truth to that story and it was a good movie. Ratatouille I liked, not that it was real, but some of the kitchen stuff was accurate and Thomas Keller was an adviser.
Devour: The Canadian Rockies takes place March 2 to 4 at the Fairmont Jasper Park Lodge. For tickets and more information, visit fairmont.com/jasper.