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Preview: Flatirons Food Film Festival

Delicious benefit kicks off world-class cinematic event

Flatirons Food Film FestivalWhen our favorite directors muse, whirling themselves into another chef d’oeuvre, we pay attention.

And when our beloved chefs find new inspiration for a gourmet masterpiece, we salivate.

But the two together? Don’t get me started.

Or rather, do get me started—on the very thing that caught my eye and captivated my palate last night. Five chefs, four films, and four operatic arias converged at Agora at the Riverside in the heart of Boulder, each playing off each other. The volley of inspiration between film, food, and opera was very refreshing—and produced some dazzling art.

Riffs' Golden Beets

Riffs’ Golden Beets

First, the food. Chefs in attendance included the inimitable Dave Query of Jax Fish House (and Big Red F), famed Eric Skokan of Black Cat and Bramble & Hare, John Platt of Riffs Urban Fare, Kelly Whitaker of Basta, and Kyle Mendenhall of The Kitchen. That’s a lot of culinary talent in one room.

Before the films rolled, guests mingled about with glasses of wine and small plates of film-inspired fare. Here’s a snapshot of the menu:

* Chef Platt’s Golden Beets with toasted hazelnuts and creamy blue cheese was tops, touched with just a hint of citrus.
* Chef Query, keeping things simple—”well thought, but not over-thought,” he said—crafted a Crispy Polenta Cake coupled with cured tuna and fresh basil.
* Aiming for authenticity while tying into Query’s simplicity, Chef Skokan assembled Basque Ossau Iraty Cheese with a slice of baguette and cured ham.
* Chef Whitaker ambled away from his Italian concept for a comfort food classic inspired by his Oklahoma roots: Country Buttermilk Biscuits smeared with molasses butter and piled high with Niman Ranch country ham.
* Last, but certainly not least, Chef Mendenhall tapped into the spices of India with his Creamy Spiced Eggplant nestled in a grilled pita (it’s a Kitchen favorite, apparently).

Chef Kyle Mendenhall prepares his Eggplant and Pita dish

Chef Kyle Mendenhall prepares his Eggplant and Pita dish

The films that followed the feast were a mixture of touching and playful—illuminating the lives and loves of Basque farmers; the ingenuity of Indian chefs who deliver home-cooked meals; the resilience and bond of a Midwest farming family; and the joy of Italian life, centered on food. The composition of each was unique, deftly fitted to the subject and crafted in such a way that even a short five-minute narrative told a nuanced, emotional story.

Opera on Tap Colorado singers perform classic arias

Opera on Tap Colorado singers perform classic arias

To add to that emotion, Opera On Tap Colorado (operaontap.org/colorado) spoiled us with arias from classic operas that also fit with the films. The interplay of food, film, and song was both original and impressively dynamic.

If you’re worried you missed out on all the fun, don’t be. This lovely benefit—which successfully raised funds to bring a filmmaker to the Flatirons Food Film Festival—was just the beginning. There will be plenty more inspiration during the festival week, October 19-25. What can you look forward to? Films on food, panels on film, speakers on film, food, and life—and that’s just the beginning. Browse the schedule online, and be sure to get tickets ASAP. This is one inspirational film fest you will not want to miss.

For more information, visit flatironsfoodfilmfest.org.

—Jeffrey Steen