First Annual Foodable Film Festival Kicks Off This May in Chicago

If you’ve been following along, you’ve probably already familiarized yourself with, Foodable’s upcoming event for restaurant industry professionals taking place in Chicago on May 20th, the day before the NRA Show kicks off. This interactive event is unlike any other in restaurant trade, and comes in two parts: interactive panel sessions to start the day (what we’re calling Food Theory), and, in the evening, the first annual Foodable Film Festival. Both parts aim to bring individuals together not only to network, but also to become educated in an entertaining way about issues, trends, and movements affecting the foodservice industry of today and tomorrow. It’s this reason that Food Theory will be open only to approved restaurant industry professionals and select media, as space is limited, and with knowledge comes power — to make a change or, at the very least, get the ball rolling.

The Details

The first annual Foodable Film Festival will kick off at 6 p.m. at the Ritz-Carlton in Chicago. This portion of the event is also open to food bloggers, food media, and food enthusiasts. Food Theory tickets also include access to the Film Festival. [If you want to buy tickets to both or just for the Film Festival, you can do so here.]

In its inaugural year, the festival will be screening roughly 15 films for an estimated 400 attendees. Two feature presentations, including the network’s own “Fast Casual Nation: Changing the Way America Eats,” and “For Grace,” a documentary about chef Curtis Duffy of Grace restaurant in Chicago, will be screening one after the other in one theater, while a handful of shorts will be playing in another. Entry includes full access to all screenings, two theaters, an open bar, and hors d’oeuvres, while brushing shoulders with the industry’s biggest innovators and creators. In between films, guests can expect brief Q&As with attending filmmakers.

The Features

“Fast Casual Nation: Changing the Way America Eats,” which premiered during last year’s NRA Show weekend, will be the first feature film screening. For those who missed it last year, this documentary captures the heart and evolution of the fast-casual restaurant industry through a variety of interviews and insights from vanguards in the space, like Panera Bread founder Ron Shaich, Chipotle CMO Mark Crumpacker, and smaller regional operators that are changing the game in a lean, mean, and sometimes green way.

“For Grace,” which premiered at SXSW Film Festival 2015, will close out the festival. Following the inspiring culinary journey of Chicago chef-owner Curtis Duffy of Grace Restaurant, this film by Kevin Pang and Mark Helenowski documents Chef Curtis’s upbringing, the challenges he overcame, and the people who watched him throughout his transformation of aiming for and attaining his culinary dreams.

The Shorts

This year’s short films include both in-house Foodable Network productions, as well as films from filmmakers around the world. All have the same goal: to bring to light an event, challenge, or movement within the food space that aims to educate, entertain, and produce feelings, hopefully to expedite change. Or, for some, to provoke a deeper understanding of the hardships and grit that inevitably accompany this less-than-glamorous culinary business. 

“This Is a Big Deal” is a documentary by Duffy Higgins following Chef JJ Johnson at The Cecil in Harlem as he and his team prepare to host the Esquire Magazine Food & Drink Awards and put their cuisine style on the map. “The Course of Food,” directed by Christopher Hunt, follows Chef Marc Dunham on his moral course, revolving around sustainability, as he connects with the people who grow his food. “Eres Lo Que Comes” by Food & Groove Films, Sr Erreka Films and Diego Gallegos Género, comes with English subtitles, and considers our current environmental situation, its relationship to what we eat, and how important quality and origin of food has become. “Food Systems, Chapter 2: Dinner on the Farm,” directed by David Bernabo, takes “a fly-on-the-wall approach to documenting three farm dinners” in Western Pennsylvania, an area (notably Pittsburgh) that’s thriving creatively and culinarily. “Central Texas Barbecue,” a film by Matthew Salleh and Rose Tucker, focuses on the lifestyle of barbecue in Central Texas, honing in on the pitmasters who call barbecue a way of life and a “path to salvation.” More shorts are on the way!

Shorts that will be screening from Foodable Network include “Food As a Lifestyle,” a behind-the-scenes exploration into the world of leading chefs, restaurateurs, and mixologists. “Team Firehouse Subs IRONMAN Arizona Tempe” showcases the heroes of Team Firehouse Subs, a brave group of first responders and IRONMAN athletes who rise above the challenge of the triathlon, all the while connecting to the brand’s charity organization, the Firehouse Subs Public Safety Foundation. And last, but certainly not least, is “BUILT.,” a new show on the network that follows brilliant FCSI The Americas consultants as they tackle everyday foodservice challenges and discover solutions of their own.