Dinner and a movie: Culinary Cinema at SIFF

Crosscut archive image.

Scene from Cooking Up a Tribute, about the acclaimed Catalonian restaurant El Celler de Can Roca.

It’s not just about popcorn anymore, say Seattle International Film Festival programmers. This year, SIFF debuts the Culinary Cinema program, which pairs films with food in unique ways — and it all starts next week.

The program is built around the festival's 11 food-related films (most are documentaries), and the Seattle restaurants with connections (some slight) to the films' subject matter that have agreed o host pre- or post-screening meals. Here are a few highlights from the film-food menu …

The documentary, Cooking up a Tribute, whets your appetite with scrumptious dishes onscreen for 90 minutes, then lets you satisfy it at Poppy, Capitol Hill's self-described “northwest mashup” small plate restaurant. The film, directed by Andrea Gómez and Luis González, follows El Celler de Can Roca, a Spanish eatery voted world’s best restaurant by Restaurant magazine. The owners closed for five weeks last year to travel the world with their staff, sampling local cuisine and concocting their own variations to bring back to Catalonia. In the end, the El Celler crew created 57 new dishes, completely revamping the menu. Quite the daring move for a restaurant that's menu was already so well-received. (Cooking Up a Table is showing on June 2 and June 6 at the Harvard Exit, just down the street from Poppy.)

King Georges, directed by Erika Frankel, tells a tale from the opposite end of the spectrum, giving us a peek at a restaurant’s slow demise. George Perrier, owner of elegant Philadelphia-based Le Bec-Fin, was in a quandary. After 40 years, he decided it was time to sell his venerable business, but having chosen a successor chef, he suddenly changed his mind. For the next three years, the director filmed Perrier's attempts to reinvigorate Le Bec-Fin's menu, remodel its dining room, and just keep on with a restaurant that had been the center of his life for so long. The website of the now-shuttered Le-Bec-Fin reminds visitors that “All good things must come to an end.” But Seattle’s Loulay is alive and well in downtown, and planning to host a $125 “chef’s menu” to accompany the King Georges screening: May 20 at AMC Pacific Place.

For those more interested in eating food than watching movies about it there is Messi. This film by director Álex de la Iglesia tells the story of Argentinian soccer star Leo Messi, and it comes with three eating options for culinary enthusiasts. All at VUDE (Velvet Underground Dining Experience) in South lake Union. Moviegoers can opt for pre-screening empanadas with wine, late-night dessert or a full-on dinner. The VUDE dinner option is exclusive, though. Only 20 seats available.


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About the Authors & Contributors

Marissa Brent-Tookey

Marissa Brent-Tookey

Marissa Brent-Tookey is an editorial intern at Crosscut. She holds a B.A. in French from Seattle University and now studies film production at Shoreline Community College. In addition to crewing a dozen or so local film projects, Marissa recently produced a short that screened at Seattle International Film Festival. This is her first editorial position. Contact her at marissa.brent.tookey@crosscut.com.