Film Festivals

Scouting Chicago with the Chicago Food Film Festival Crew

Last year, the 4th New York City Food Film Festival was a solid success and its producers, led by Hamburger America author and filmmaker George Motz, brought it to Chicago for the first time, selling out two programs. This year, the New York festival was a sensation, getting far more press and buzz than ever before, and the festival’s originators hope to pull off the same feat in Chicago this year during the fest’s run from November 18th to 20th. Festival executive producer Seth Unger and producer Amy Kantrowitz flew into Chicago yesterday to check out possible venues for screenings and some of the restaurants who may be participating, and we tagged along for part of the day. A slideshow offering a little preview of what the festival will be about is below.

Last year’s fest was pretty much imported straight from New York, and the Chicago presence was largely limited to ourselves. But this year there will be a number of Chicago-produced films accompanied by tastes of the foods featured in them. We started the morning at Doughnut Vault, meeting Unger in line as he was buying six boxes of a half dozen doughnuts each, to hand them out at each of our subsequent stops. While there we talked with Brooks Ruyle and Kate Soczka of local production company Mode Project, who made a short documentary about Doughnut Vault which will play in the festival. And we chatted with head Vault doughnut-man Patrick Addison.

From there we visited Intelligentsia’s roasting plant on west Fulton, chatting with director of marketing— and 2008 Barista World Champion— Stephen Morrissey about turning the plant’s factory floor into a dramatic, and awesome-smelling, backdrop for food and films— including one or two of the videos they’ve made in house, such as this one. Next we met up with the owner and chief ice cream maker from Lakeview’s Bobtail Ice Cream at DMK Burger Bar (owner Michael Kornick will be one of the judges of the festival this year), and from there drove south to introduce the festival organizers to Art Jackson and his Pleasant House Bakery. He’ll be in a film in the festival… if we manage to make it by then.

We left the group shortly after, but understand that they made further stops at Hoosier Mama Pie Co. and Frontier before returning to New York, saying more than once along the way how friendly and helpful Chicagoans were (and how much they liked the doughnuts at Doughnut Vault).

Final plans for the festival should be announced later this week on the festival’s website or @foodfilmfest on Twitter.

First stop in Chicago: Doughnut Vault, to pick up six boxes of greeting doughnuts for their other stops.
Patrick Addison, chief doughnut maker at Doughnut Vault, with festival producer Amy Kantrowitz and executive producer Seth Unger.
Intelligentsia’s offices have really nice coffee bars.
Intelligentsia marketing head (and world champion barista) Stephen Morrissey shows the festival team around the roasting plant on west Fulton.
Three vintage roasters (color-coded to tell the pipes apart) would make a dramatic backdrop for eating and viewing.
Unger makes his pitch to Art Jackson of Pleasant House Bakery.
Scouting Chicago with the Chicago Food Film Festival Crew