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Come Hungry To The Chicago Food Film Festival

By Jennifer A. Freeman in Food on Nov 21, 2013 10:15PM


Break out of the "dinner and a movie" box and get your dinner with a movie at the fourth annual Chicago Food Film Fest, November 20 - 23. This culinary cinema mashup started in New York, expanded to Chicago and is now taking over Charleston for the first year.

We attended last night's opening party and our advice to you for this festival is: come hungry. Each of four short films were accompanied by a signature dish. "The Perfect Oyster" with Shaw's Crab House oysters, natch. "Tako NY" with Takoyaki, little fried dumplings with chopped octopus. "Where does a Compost Cookie come from?" with compost cookies from Momofuku Milk Bar. And the star of the show, "Biting into the Ramen Burger" with authentic ramen burgers. Chef Keizo Shimamoto and the ingredients were flown in from New York for the event.

With "Ramen Burger" being somewhat of a buzzword on the culinary scene, we were skeptical, but the inventor of this burger showed us how it was meant to be done. The Ramen "bun" was a far cry from the 99-cent packs of noodles from our college days. The noodles were fried up into a chewy, slightly crispy, savory bun.

Festival attendee and former Kendall College student Kevin Leung said he went to the opening night just to try the Ramen Burger. "It's a huge blessing that we get to come here when people are waiting in New York for three hours," said Leung.

If you missed the opening party with the Ramen Burger, don't worry. Eating and film watching will still be going on for the next three days of the Chicago Food Film Festival. Each night has a different theme for the movies and the food, so pick and choose your favorite. Or rustle up your eating pants and attend all of the events.

Tonight: Untitled II, "An evening featuring the art, craft and inspiration behind great food and the wine of Michel Chapoutier."

Friday: The Food Porn* Party Chicago, "*You know what we're talking about. Extreme close-ups - of food!"

Saturday Afternoon: Edible Adventure #009 + Matt Timms' Sugar Takedown, "Taste sweet treats from 20 contestants. You pick the winner!"

Saturday Night: Farm to Film to Table + The Lowcountry Shrimp Boil, "An Evening of Local and Sustainable Foods and Films."

Tickets are still available for all of the events, except Untitled II, and range from $55 to $95 for the VIP pass, which gets you early entry and admission to a pre-party. All food and drink is included in the ticket price.

A few tips for festival attendees this weekend:

  • Skip your lunch. You'll be served a new course of food with each short film and you don't want to fill up before the end.

  • There is free parking in the Kendall College lot or it's easily accessible from the Chicago Blue Line stop and the Halsted Bus.

  • Kendall College is undergoing renovation so don't be scared by a winding path by the river to the entrance. There should be nice people to help direct you.

  • The film screenings are in a classroom theater setting. That means slanted tables. And spilled drinks when someone jostles the table. Just be careful.

One last tip: Try to snag the seats that are stage right in the second row. We wanted easy in and out access at the end of the row, but we were pleased to find ourselves sitting right behind the chefs and filmmakers flown in for the event. If giving your compliments directly to the chef is your thing, get there early for these seats.