|Event co-producers Alison Love, left, and Christina Ferreira, along with local chefs Rod Butters of RauDZ Regional Table and Matthew Batey, executive winery chef with Mission Hill Family Estate Winery, are ready for the inaugural Okanagan Food Wine Film Festival. It is being held at the Rotary Centre for the Arts Sept. 13-15.|
Set for Sept. 13-15 at Kelowna's Rotary Centre for the Arts, the inaugural Okanagan Food Wine Film Festival promises to be a treat for the senses, and not just the taste buds, either.
Featuring the screening of some 35 films based on the themes of food and wine, combined with offerings from celebrated local chefs and wineries, according to event co-producer Christina Ferreira, this is also the first time anything like this has been organized in Canada.
"It's a film festival that focuses on food and beverage," she said. "We wanted to (put this together) because we live in Okanagan wine country and we have so much great food here.
"The idea is you go in and you watch a film and then after there's a reception with food that was featured in the film. For example, if we're showing a film on oysters, you would come out and eat oysters."
The event kicks off on the Friday with a red carpet gala showing of one of the most talked-about documentaries of the year, SOMM. It follows the attempts of four people as they try to pass the exams for Master Sommelier and gain acceptance into the prestigious, and somewhat secretive Court of Master Sommeliers.
A humourous and sometimes emotional look into the world of wine, spirits and cigars, the film will be hosted by Ingo Grady, wine educator with Mission Hill Family Estate Winery and will feature one of it's stars, Ian Cauble, in attendance.
"This film previewed at the Napa Valley (Calif.) film festival and it's been receiving award after ward," said Ferreira. "It's been showcased around the world and it's got a lot of buzz."
In keeping with spirit of the weekend, ticket holders will be treated to a glass of bubbly before the film, and afterwards will be invited to an exclusive cocktail reception featuring some of the areas best restaurants and award-winning local wines. Cauble, who incidentally was successful in his bid to become a Master Sommelier, will be on hand to conduct a special hidden tasting.
As well, the evening will also feature wines and canapÃ©s courtesy of Mission Hill and winery chef Matthew Batey.
With some 20 years in the food and wine business, Batey said the Okanagan is ready for an event like this.
"It's pretty indicative of just how forward and progressive thinking some of the passionate people are in this community that it's going to be Canada's first annual and we're in Kelowna," he said. "This isn't a big city, but we're talking big-city production right here at home."
The fun continues on the Saturday with the screening of 'small bites' short films and two feature-length documentaries, Betting the Farm and A Matter of Taste. Focusing respectively on a group of Maine dairy farmers efforts to privatize their marketing and an in-depth look at one of New York City's most innovative young chefs, Paul Liebrandt.
President of the Okanagan Chefs Association, Stuart Klassen, will be on hand to host the latter and perhaps add some insights on what it takes to rise to the top in the competitive and sometimes-fickle high-end restaurant business.
The festival's films explore always intriguing and delicious subject matter, and there is something for everyone. Whether it be a look at a Quebec institution like the one seen in Sugar Shack, the self-explanatory Perogy!, 10,000 Cases which squeezes the entire harvest of one B.C. winemaker into two minutes, or the food porn of The Benevolent Butcher - Bacon, variety is the spice of this event.
She pointed out they will also be screening a pair of films produced by filmmaker Craig Noble, brother of Heidi Noble of Joie Winery in Naramata.
Yet another element of the event is Saturday's farm tour, hosted by Jennifer Schell, author of The Butcher, the Baker, The Wine and Cheese Maker. Schell, also editor of B.C. Food and Wine Trails magazine, will lead a tour to locales such as local honey and lavender farms, as well as stops at the noted Tantalus Winery and Sunshine Organic Farm, where guests will be treated to a three-course lunch with wine pairings, of course.
Being a three-day event, the Okanagan Food Wine Film Festival wraps up Sunday with more short films on the menu. As well there will be the feature, The Restaurateur, which chronicles the efforts over 12 years of New Yorker Danny Meyer as he struggles to open a pair of restaurants in the city's Madison Square park area.
With a background herself in the wine industry, Ferreira and co-producer Alison Love of Spatula Media have been busy since mid winter, pulling the components of the weekend together.
Their wish is festivalgoers will come away with a renewed appreciation for the bounty of the land and what it takes to put the food and drinks we consume on the table.
"We hope it's a learning experience," Ferreira said. "We hope you come out of the films different than when you went in.
"We want you to be able to taste your wines and spirits and beers differently â€¦ you'll actually enjoy it more."
What: The inaugural Okanagan Food Wine Film Festival
Where: The Rotary Centre for the Arts, 421 Cawston Ave., Kelowna
When: Sept. 13 -15
Tickets: various options are available, ranging from a one-event ticket to a weekend all-access pass, available online at selectyourtickets.com, in person at the Prospera Place box office, or by calling 250-762-5050.