28 AUG 2017: Faced every year with a seasonal slowdown late October and November at his restaurant Tempest in Wolfville Nova Scotia, Chef Michael Howell decided to tackle the issue with creativity. Devour! The Food Film Fest now in its seventh year, brought ten thousand people to the city last year with 13,000 expected this October 25 to 29.  

Chef Howell, who sold Tempest in 2012 and is executive director of Devour! says it is now the world’s largest film festival devoted to all things culinary. It has been such a success that there is literally no room at the inns of Wolfville and shuttle buses bring festival goers in from Halifax, about an hour away.

This year’s festival features 99 events including 72 films in 34 screenings, 23 industry workshops, three celebrity chef dinners, 22 tasting tours, and 20 special events including dinners and parties.

Celebrated chefs Jacques Pépin, Michael Smith, Bob Blumer and Mark Greenaway are among 2017 participants. Film screenings include the Canadian Premiere of Jacques Pépin - The Art of Craft directed by Peter Stein, which will be attended by culinary legend Jacques Pépin and Stein, as well as the world premiere of the Canadian film Grand Cru, directed by David Eng, who will be in attendance.

Canadian film icon Gordon Pinsent is the festival’s 2017 guest curator. The selection of the Newfoundland-born actor is the perfect match with this year’s festival theme, A Celebration of Canadian Cinema & Cuisine. The festivities will shine a spotlight on Canadian film and food in recognition of the nation’s sesquicentennial. Pinsent picked The Hundred-Foot Journey directed by Lasse Hallström to screen at the opening of the festival.

Leading up to the October event, Devour! has been cultivating interest in the food film festival at home and abroad taking its show on the road in nine satellite events held in places such as the Okanagan Valley, Berlin, New York and Toronto.

“Devour! is a feast for the soul that interconnects food, wine and film in a multisensory experience and festival,” said Howell. “Food and film, no matter which corner of the world you visit, are universal experiences that bring people together; yet each country, each city and every region, has its own distinctive point of view and culinary scene that is cherished and celebrated.”

“This year, we’re thrilled to add two new exciting destinations to our programme; Algonquin and Fogo Island,” he said.

August 2nd saw the team in New York partnering with The Long Beach International Film Festival to present Chefs & Shorts, a gala dinner with wine pairings inspired by short films.

Back in Nova Scotia, the team collaborated with Le Caveau Restaurant at Domaine de Grand Pré to present Devour! The Vines, an intimate five-course meal paired with wine and films set amongst the grapevines August 4 and 25. The final Devour! The Vines meal takes place on September 1st.

In Toronto, a special public-ticketed event was held at the Luxe Appliance Studio last week. Called A Taste of Devour! in Toronto, it featured celebrity chefs cooking up dishes inspired by films from the upcoming 2017 programme. For example Chef Bob Blumer created The Nutcase candied walnut and blue cheese atop ice cider to match with a crazy film short that was as nutty as his creation.

November 3 to 5, Fogo Island Inn in Newfoundland will offer guests two nights and three days specially curated for cinephiles and epicures. The weekend for the senses begins with a Friday evening film reception and chowder cook-off, followed by Saturday’s epic six course supper of food-and-film pairings. On Sunday there will be a farewell foraged breakfast. Guests will also hear stories of the National Film Board’s pioneering cinematic legacy, “The Fogo Process” participatory film project.

At the main event Devour! The Film Fest in Wolfville, Canada’s participating chefs include, Joshna Maharaj (The Drake Hotel; Toronto), Emma Cardarelli (Nora Gray; Montreal), Paul Rogalski (Rouge, Bistro Rouge; Calgary), and CBC’s Ali Hassan. From Thursday, October 26 – Saturday, October 28, these culinary leaders will pair up with local Nova Scotia sensations to create three decadent meals inspired by select festival films.

The Celebrity Chef Dinner on Thursday, October 26 is themed Scotland vs New Scotland as three Scottish and three Nova Scotia chefs face off to create a French-influenced menu in tribute to Pépin. That’s just a taste of what’s to come at Devour!

For full programming details and tickets visit www.devourfest.com

 

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Margaret Swaine

Margaret is a nationally published wine, spirits, food and travel writer, who has authored thousands of articles on these subjects for magazines and newspapers.

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