Food, friends and film. A holy trinity. And the concept behind Reel Eats, a monthly event inviting you to engage all of your senses which debuted last month in Toronto. A gastronomic film and story-telling event Reel Eats brings together Toronto’s finest chefs, raconteurs (think CBC Radio’s DNTO live) and food lovers in one gloriously delicious evening. A famous culinary film lies at the heart of every event and dictates the menu for the evening.
A concept developed (over dim sum, no less) by Mary Luz Mejia and Mario Stojanac of Sizzling Communications, Chef Vanessa Yeung and Domenic Ubaldino of Aphrodite Cooks and Sang Kim – restaurateur, writer and cook behind Sushi Making for the Soul, Reel Eats is an opportunity to hear, smell, taste,touch and watch what you eat. In honour of Chinese New Year and The Year of the Dragon, the inaugural Reel Eats event paid homage to Asia through the food lover’s film “Eat Drink Man Woman” directed by Ang Lee. The film centers around Master Chef Chu and the elaborate Sunday dinners he painstakingly creates for his three beautiful daughters – one father’s way of getting his family to slow down and communicate in Taipei’s fast-forward, modern society. Inspired by Chef Chu, the evening’s multiple courses were prepared and introduced by Chef Vanessa Yeung and were served (apart from the soup and dessert), family-style.
On the menu?
Winter Melon Soup
Chicken and Cucumber Salad
Braised Pork Belly with Choi Sum
Ginger Chicken Potstickers
Snow Pea Shoots Sautéed with Garlic
Deep Fried Bananas with Ginger Ice Cream
With the movie playing in the background (I had seen it before but many, many years ago but wished I had paid attention to the instruction to watch the film before coming!) guests chatted, shared food and wine at two long tables in Chef Vanessa’s wonderful open-concept kitchen/ teaching studio. It felt like a family get-together, only without the arguments 😉
In between courses, guests at Reel Eats events are entertained by storytellers. For the inaugural edition, we enjoyed stories by Diana Tso (a playwright), Carol Devine (author of “The Antarctic Book of Cooking and Cleaning”) and Grace Lynn Kung (a Gemini-nominated actress) – each of whom shared a story involving food, relating it to the evening’s theme. Storytelling is an art many of us are unaccustomed to, however after this delightful evening, I can’t wait to experience more. Such a huge part of many other cultures, storytelling offers a different perspective, a different window of experience and is truly universal in that wherever you live, whoever you are, whatever you do, you have a story to tell. Hearing Diana, Carol and Grace speak gave the guests even more to talk about than just the delectable plates of food we were sharing, and added a very special element to the evening.
If you love food and film, these evenings are for you. With Italy coming up for March (already sold out) and France next on the horizon, this is the perfect chance to travel the world through food and stories without leaving Toronto.
These events cost $75 per person including taxes for food, film and fun! For more information visit: http://www.facebook.com/ReelEats
Mardi Michels is a full-time French teacher and part-time food blogger based in Toronto. Her blog, eat.live.travel.write focuses on culinary adventures both near and far because she travels as often as she can!