Florida Film Festival adds something new this year: movies!

Written By Administrator On March 26, 2009

River King Corn Godfather

The Florida Film Festival kicks off this weekend and, as in the last few years, the first few days are devoted to food and wine. But unlike the first few years of the Enzian based festival, this year’s gathering will actually try to include movies with the food. At least a little bit.

It was odd last year when the highlight of the first weekend included a tribute to the movie Babette’s Feast with a sort of kind of menu based on Babette’s menu prepared by the Brandon McGlamery at Luma on Park. The only think missing was the turtle stew. And the movie. If you’d wanted to refresh your memory of the movie — or, for some of the attendees, likely, see it for the first time becaues it was first released before they were born — you had to Netflix it yourself.

This year’s main event, also on Saturday, expands the tributes to three chefs in three venues paying tribute to three separate films. And the welcome twist is that the dinners will feature clips from the selected films. Still not the whole movie, but we move in little steps sometimes.

And who wants to sit through a whole movie when you’ve got the likes of Norman Van Aken, Melissa Kelly and McGlamery again cooking for you?

The gimmick for the dinners is that each chef was asked to choose a favorite movie and build a dinner around it. Van Aken chose The Godfather, McGlamery A River Runs Through It, and Kelly King Corn, a documentary about two friends who return to the Midwest to grow corn and follow it through the U.S. food supply only to discover disturbing facts about genetically modified seeds, strong herbicides and questionable government subsidy practices. Fun.

Actually, that movie, which I admit to not having seen, seems perfect for Kelly who’s known for her use of organically and locally grown produce. Her dinner will be at her J.W. Marriott restaurant, Primo.

McGlamery’s movie is perfect for him, too. Anyone who knows him knows he is an avid fisherman, and Robert Redford’s bucolic film about two brothers with opposite personalities but a shared love for fly-fishing will give McGlamery an opportunity to display his prowess with seafood. His dinner will be at Luma on Park.

I’m not sure about Van Aken’s choice. But it certainly lends itself to the most possibilities. First, he could serve large sea scallops for diners to stuff in their cheeks to do Marlon Brando impersonations. The fish course would have to be served wrapped in a newspaper. And when diners are first seated and lift their napkins, if they don’t discover a pat of butter shaped like a horse head with a little tomato coulis on the plate, he’s missing a great gag. A cheap gag, but a great one.

Actually, Van Aken’s menu, which will of course be served at Norman’s, will have an Italian accent and end with, instead of dessert, an offer you can’t refuse.

Only Van Aken’s dinner is sold out. For information and tickets for the other two dinners, visit the Florida Film Fest Web site.

Iron Chef Cat Cora is the other foodie element to this year’s opening weekend. She’s promised to put in an appearance at all three dinners. Not so hard to walk from Primo across to Norman’s but getting to Luma is going to be a hike.

The festival officially begins with the opening night party, Friday, March 27, with local and guest chefs serving aphrodisiac-themed foods to celebrate this year’s theme, Original Cinema (pronounced Sin-ema; get it?) Participating chefs include Josh Oakley (Enzian & Eden Bar), James and Julie Petrakis (The Ravenous Pig), Steven Rujak (Hyatt Regency Grand Cypress), Kathleen Blake (Urban Flats), Kevin Fonzo (K Wine Bar), David Nuss (Harmoni Market), Charles Szasz (Good 2 Go Gourmet), Matthew Johnson (Walker’s Drive-In),  and Tom Nadolski (Fleming’s Prime Steakhouse & Wine Bar).

Hit the Web site again for ticket info. The opening night film and part after will be held at the Enzian Theater in Maitland.

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