2nd annual Food on Film Series

Village Living was lucky enough to be able to speak with Theresa Scandiffio, Senior Manager of Adult Learning at the TIFF Bell Lightbox, about their 2nd annual Food on Film Series, which attracts a large number of film lovers and foodies. The series is a one-of-a-kind event that showcases food-centric films followed by discussions with chefs and culinary experts, offering an intimate experience between the audience and food connoisseurs.

We talk to Theresa about the lineup of guest speakers they have in store, the public’s response to the series, and how Luma is getting in on the fun, whetting the appetite of hungry film-goers.

1.       What was the philosophy behind the series? And how is it different from last year’s Food on Film Series?

When we opened the TIFF Bell Lightbox doors in fall 2010, we wanted to expand our year-round programme offerings to include a number of series (e.g. Science on Film, Books on Film, Food on Film) that would provide our audience a variety of ways to engage in film with an educational spin. Series like Food on Film is accessible and open to anyone curious in learning about how film connects with the culinary arts and the food industry more broadly.

It is our second year presenting Food on Film, and this year we’ve shifted towards a wider understanding of how food is represented on screen. Last year the focus was on chefs presenting a film that inspired them. This year’s lineup includes a high-profile chef but also a food stylist, a food editor, a sommelier, a food activist and a scientist. We strive to offer our audience different perspectives on how food intersects with cinema.

2.       What was the inspiration behind the guest/film pairings?

Each guest and film pairing brings a unique yet complementary culinary perspective to both the onstage discussion and Q&A session with the audience. As leaders in their respective culinary fields, these special guests are incredibly creative people with a passion for sharing their knowledge with foodies and hobbyists alike in an accessible and fun way. For example, many people have heard the term molecular gastronomy or maybe know a bit about Ferran Adrià’s Michelin 3-star restaurant, El Bulli. But, they are curious to learn more about food science techniques and eager to seek them in action at local restaurants.

Our final guest for the series, food scientist Kent Kirshenbaum, is the perfect expert guest for our post-screening discussion of the documentary, El Bulli.  Kirshenbaum will debunk ideas and myths about molecular gastronomy and food chemistry, as well as offer first-hand accounts of what it was like to dine at Adrià’s highly exclusive El Bulli restaurant. Additional upcoming guests include award-winning sommelier Aldo Sohm and renowned food activist Anita Stewart.

3.       Why are you interested in the intersection between food and film and which showing are you looking forward to the most?

I love the unlimited ways food intersects with film culture. For instance, this series has taught me a lot about ways food is represented and displayed onscreen. When watching films, I now find myself paying close attention to how the food is staged and the role it plays alongside the actors, lighting, costume design and overall setting in each scene.

On a personal note, I am very excited for our April 24th event with award-winning sommelier, Aldo Sohm. I love wine but am clueless when it comes to choosing a good bottle! Sohm approaches wine with enthusiasm and without pretension — he wants to make wine an accessible subject and will bring his extensive knowledge to the conversation and provide insight into American wines as represented in Sideways. Audience members can expect this to be a kind of bootcamp lesson for wine appreciation.

4.       One of the events pairs Ang Lee’s film Eat Drink Man Woman with guest speaker David Chang, owner and head chef of Momofuku. How did this partnership come about?

David Chang’s creativity, energy and love of all things food and cinema made him an ideal guest for this series. We were thrilled when he agreed to join us for the Food on Film conversation, and love the fact that he personally chose to be paired with Ang Lee’s film Eat Drink Man Woman.

I’m really looking forward to hearing the discussion between David and our host, Annabelle Waugh, who is also the Food Director for Canadian Living. I can’t wait to find out why this film is a personal favourite, and to learn about any insights he may have on the film’s main character who, like Chang and all master chefs, is responsible for creating food to be shared in a communal and familial setting.

 (You can read VL’s film review of Ang Lee’s Eat, Drink Man Woman, here.)

5.       What kind of response have you been getting from chefs who wish to participate in this series and from film lovers and foodies?

The response has been overwhelmingly positive!  I think one of the reasons why our guests have been excited to join us, is because this onstage event is a little bit different from their usual culinary gigs. For instance, food stylist Claire Stubbs had prepared hundreds of food dishes for photo shoots in magazines and film shoots, but is rarely given the opportunity to talk to an audience about the process behind her work. At our inaugural event in February, she walked our audience through the artistic process used in the food dishes in the 2009 film I Am Love. It offered the audience a chance to learn some trade secrets in food styling, such as the miniscule proportions of the food and small scale of the plates in photo shoots.

6.       Can you explain how Luma is preparing dishes and wine pairings to compliment these films?

The dishes offered at Luma restaurant are created and inspired by each film in the series. After reviewing the film and doing research on the actors and film setting, Luma’s executive chef Jason Bangerter gets creative! The dish may draw from the country or region the story takes place, an actual dish that is seen in the film, or in some cases, it’s inspired by the guest and host of the Food on Film series for that particular screening.

 7.       What was the thinking behind the overall curation of the entire series?

 This year’s Food on Film series offers six different aspects or phases of the food experience. Throughout the series, our host and expert guests explore topics such as the aesthetics of food styling and presentation, the process of choosing a restaurant to dine and, what goes on behind-the-scenes in a restaurant kitchen. Our next three events invite audiences to discuss the inspiration behind pairing the perfect wine with a dish, the politics surrounding food, and the science behind creating extraordinary dishes.

8.       Are you planning to have or expand the Food on Film series in the upcoming years?  

Yes! Absolutely. TIFF prides itself in offering new ways for filmgoers to get a premium cinematic experience. In the first season of this series, award-winning pastry chef Jacquy Pfeiffer brought the audience some of his award-winning macarons and caramels from his pastry school in Chicago. For this year’s final Food on Film event on June 19th, food scientist Kent Kirshenbaum will be conducting an onstage demonstration on the principles of molecular gastronomy. There are so many incredible food films and local/global culinary experts doing really fascinating stuff with all things edible! Whether it is by offering free curated recipe cards, food samples or live demonstrations, we are dedicated to providing our audience members an entertaining night out at the movies.

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Luma’s Peking Duck Salad inspired by Ang Lee’s Eat Drink Man Woman

Most recently, the film Eat Drink Man Woman was featured with special guest chef David Chang. With so many wonderful images and scenes of the art of cookery and technique, chef Bangerter found it easy to get inspired by this film.

In one scene, a goose is being bathed in hot oil before being roasted and prepared for a family meal. This inspired the following recipe.

Chef Bangerter kept it simple for home use. It is very easy to purchase a delicious and well-prepared roast duck product fresh from China town – this will save a couple of hours in preparations.  However, Chef Bangerter encourages purchasing a fresh raw duck to enjoy the experience of cooking it yourself.


Peking Duck Salad

Food on Film 2013

Executive Chef Jason Bangerter

Luma Restaurant



3 cups                                     cooked Peking duck shredded or cut into thin strips (julienne cut)

1 cup                           cooked carrot cut into thin strips (julienne cut)

1 cup                           cooked snow peas cut into thin strips (julienne cut)

1 cup                           bean sprouts

½ cup                          spring onion thinly sliced

1                                  red Anaheim chili pepper thinly sliced

½ cup                          ripe mango thinly sliced

1 head                         washed bibb leaf lettuce

2 cups                         hoi sin sauce

1 tbsp.                         toasted sesame seeds

roasted salted peanuts roughly chopped

coriander leaves

3                                  limes



 Place one cup hoi sin sauce in a large mixing bowl.  Stir in the juice from 2 limes to thin the sauce.

  1. Add the warm duck, carrot, snow peas, mango and bean sprouts into the sauce.  Mix to coat well.  Season with salt and fresh ground black pepper.

 To Serve:

Lay out 4 salad plates and spoon a little of the remaining hoi sin sauce onto the center of the plate.

Place a couple of bibb lettuce leaves down to create a base or bowl in the sauce.

Spoon some duck salad into the lettuce leaves.

Garnish with sesame seeds, peanuts, coriander leaves, spring onion and chilies.

Serve with a wedge of lime.

This recipe will serve 4 appetizer portions



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