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At Chicago Food Film Fest, Sriracha Doughnuts and Squid Chips Abound

By Janet Rausa Fuller | November 19, 2014 5:27am
 The annual event features films about food and the food in those films.
Chicago Food Film Festival 2014
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RIVER WEST — The Sriracha doughnut. The previously-available-only-in-Brooklyn beef rib. The food porn star sporting a SnugWow — a Snuggie made of ShamWows.

These things exist and will be consumed in some form at the fifth annual Chicago Food Film Festival Nov. 19-22 at Kendall College, 900 N. North Branch St.

"We've taken a high-end food event and fused it with a serious, competitive film festival, and we're doing both at the same time, making sure the films look good and the food is hot," said co-founder George Motz, director of the documentary "Hamburger America" and author of a book by the same name.

At the festival's core are films about food — "It can't just have a two-minute scene of a guy making an egg," Motz said — and the food in those films. While the audiences watch, they also eat (and drink).

 Edzo's cheeseburgers and Hoosier Mama pies are on the menu for the opening night of the Chicago Food Film Festival.
Edzo's cheeseburgers and Hoosier Mama pies are on the menu for the opening night of the Chicago Food Film Festival.
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Edzo's Burger Shop/Facebook

"It's timed so that at that moment in the film when you think, 'What would that taste like?,' you're being served that food," Motz said.

The festival opens Wednesday with a screening of the documentary "The Great Chicken Wing Hunt" from director Matt Reynolds, about the search for America's best Buffalo wing.

The chef whose wings were deemed best will be at the festival. He's bringing his sauce with him for wings that will be cooked on-site, Motz said.

Thursday's "Edible Adventure" schedule includes films about the Q7 Ranch in Marengo, Ill., soup, taco trucks and Sriracha.

"Francis Brennan from Do-Rite Donuts is making us a Sriracha doughnut. It's not in the film, but we're going to serve it anyway," Motz said. Ditto for the Sriracha ice cream from Bobtail Ice Cream in Lakeview.

Friday's films deal with the sea and its bounty, with seafood-focused tastings to match: oysters, sushi, squid chips, seafood ramen and a sea urchin dish from El Ideas chef Phillip Foss.

Saturday afternoon is devoted to craft beer with screenings of "Craft," a feature-length film about the history of craft brewing, and a short film called "The Art and Science of Beer," plus beer from Lagunitas, Begyle and other breweries.

The bulk of the films are short. The festival committee sifted through more than 375 submissions for this year's roundup.

A new festival category this year is the super-short film, running under 5 minutes.

"We're starting to see more really short films that are able to tell a story and convey emotion in three or four minutes," Motz said.

Motz's own super-short, "For the Love of Beef Rib," will play Saturday evening. It tells the story of his friend, Brooklyn pitmaster Billy Durney, who has fast become known for Texas-style beef ribs at his restaurant, Hometown Bar-B-Que.

"They're really hard to replicate anywhere else but at his pit," said Motz. Nonetheless, he convinced Durney to come to Chicago for the screening.

"He found the exact same smoker, so he'll be recreating his beef rib. There will be tons of beef ribs," Motz said.

Saturday's "Food Porn Party" lineup also includes "Balls!," a film by Charles Grantham starring his SnugWow-wearing alter ego, Larry Cauldwell. Arancini, meatballs, Top Pot doughnut holes and other ball-shaped foods will be served.

"He knows how to get to the line without crossing it," Motz said of Grantham. "He's a cross between Martha Stewart and Ron Jeremy, if Ron Jeremy could cook."

For the 2005 premiere of "Hamburger America," Motz and a restaurateur friend served the burgers featured in the film. That's when Motz decided that an entire food film festival would be a worthy pursuit.

The Food Film Festival had its debut in New York in 2007. It's now held in Charleston, S.C. as well as in Chicago. More cities are likely to be added and announced by February, Motz said.

"Maybe a one-off in London, in Stockholm," he said.

Tickets to the Chicago Food Film Festival range from $45 for the craft beer session to $75 for the aquatic and food porn events. A VIP pass, which includes admission to all five events, VIP seating, swag bags and food and drink, is $325. Click here for the full schedule and to buy tickets.

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