The Islands Project

An very interesting movie for foodies presents itself at this year’s VIFF. World-renouned executive chef Michael Stadtlander travels from Ontario to the Gulf Islands in an gourmet kitchen-fitted, eco-friendly bus in search of local ingredients with which to make outstanding cullinary dishes. Perfect for you 100 mile dieters out there in search of an inspiring story that speaks volumes about the future of our industry.

Screening times:

Sun, Sep 28th 6:45pm
Empire Granville

Tue, Sep 30th 4:30pm
Empire Granville

Tue, Oct 7th 4:30pm
Pacific Cinémathéque

It is often stated that sacrifice and change are necessary measures humans must employ in order sustain the planet. For the average person,
these words conger up images of fear, discomfort, back-breaking labour
and lifestyle disruption.  On the contrary, Michael Stadtlander’s trek across Canada honours the will of the people and our bright future by interspersing multiple courses of culinary delights and environmental messages amidst the backdrop of this beautiful country.

The film begins on Michael’s farm near Collingwood, Ontario where he, his wife and children, and a group of dedicated citizens operate a local eden of garden space and culinary and environmental education.  With “food as ammunition,” Michael and his clan set out in a diesel-powered red schoolbus, travelling some 3000km to the BC Gulf Islands.  The bus serves as a mobile kitchen equipped with solar and wind-operated stoves and appliances and a dining area where up to 12 people can be seated for dinner.

There are many contentious subjects broached in this film, issues that have drawn battle lines between environmentalists and skeptics for decades.  We meet chastised loggers who turn out to be wonderful environmental stewards, local farmers who advocate for agricultural education, slow food and co-op’s of committed volunteers, and inspiring people who celebrate our cultural diversity and power to make a difference.  There are also examples of using shells and creative “natural” serving dishes to reduce waste and reusing litter, driftwood and “junk” to construct trash to treasures.

Oh, right, the food.  Stadtlander supplements his message with food that would make a person never want to eat mac and cheese or frozen stuff ever again.  He uses many local ingredients: salmon, blackberries, apples, oysters, mussels, prawns and garden vegetables that, quite frankly, have to be seen (or eaten!) to be believed.  This Andy Goldsworthian marriage between humans and nature, with food holding everything together, shines a beautifully positive and artistic mirror on how we can potentially connect with the Earth.

Fortunately, we’re now learning that small shifts in our perspective and routine can yield results worth celebrating.  This film teaches us that we can still eat meat, can still build houses, and still travel without having to milk Bessy at dawn every morning to make a difference. This is exactly the positive message we draw from this inspiring documentary not about loss and sacrifice, but the beauty of what we will gain.

If you’re on the Island this weekend, try to fit in the 1st annual Slow Food Film Fest, presented by Slow Food Vancouver & Gulf Islands.

From the website:

About Slow Food

Our philosophy

We believe that everyone has a fundamental right to pleasure and
consequently the responsibility to protect the heritage of food,
tradition and culture that make this pleasure possible. Our movement is
founded upon this concept of eco-gastronomy – a recognition of the
strong connections between plate and planet.

Slow Food is good, clean and fair food. We believe that the food we eat
should taste good; that it should be produced in a clean way that does
not harm the environment, animal welfare or our health; and that food
producers should receive fair compensation for their work.

We consider ourselves co-producers, not consumers, because by being
informed about how our food is produced and actively supporting those
who produce it, we become a part of and a partner in the production
process.

Slow Food is an international member-supported organization that has
developed many structural entities to help realize its projects.

Our 85,000 members are involved in over 1,000 convivia – our local chapters – worldwide.

Slow Food Vancouver Island & Gulf Islands

Slow
Food is also about conviviality, about rediscovering the pleasures of
the table such and the social aspects of food. Local Slow Food
associations are known as Convivia in recognition of this fundamental
principle.

Today Slow Food has more than 85,000 members in 130 countries.

The Slow Food Vancouver Island and the Gulf Islands Convivium works to supports farmers, breeders and artisan food producers to link with the consumer. We work towards safeguarding our right to food sovereignty. We also encourage a sustainable model of agrifood production and promotes collaboration between producers, cooks and the general public to change the way food is produced today. We promote buying local products as much as we can and share them with others through tasting seminars, dinners, educational events and try to learn and enjoy the great products we have on the Island.

We are a membership based organization and rely entirely on the ongoing
support of our members. If you believe as we do, in the concept of
Good, Clean and Fair food, we encourage you to become a member.

Nick Versteeg & Diane Andiel

About the festival:

Tickets are on sale now.

There are three types of ticket available:

$75 Full Festival Pass

Full access to the Film Fest annd all screenings. Ticket includes:

Friday, November 14th, 2008

Starting at 6:30 pm. Opening Night Cocktail Reception, including a special
premiere screening of “Island on the Edge” with a discussion panel to
follow with the film-makers.

Saturday, November 15th, 2008
9am to 4pm. Access to all films, including luncheon and breaks.

$25 Friday Premiere

Ticket includes:

Friday, November 14th, 2008
Starting at 6:30 pm. Opening Night Cocktail Reception, including a special
premiere screening of “Island on the Edge” at 8pm and a discussion
panel to follow with the film-makers.

$60 Saturday Pass

Ticket includes:

Saturday, November 15th, 2008
9am to 4pm. Access to all films, including luncheon and breaks.

$5 Student Screenning of “Island on the Edge”

Date TBA
A special 10pm screening for students only.

$35 Student Festival Ticket

Saturday, November 15th, 2008
9am to 4pm. Access to all films, including luncheon and breaks.

Where to get tickets

In Victoria

Visit Plenty Epicurean Pantry at 1034 Fort Street, Victoria, BC. [Fort Street between Vancouver and Cook Streets] [Map].

In Cowichan

Visit Hilary’s Artisan Cheese at 1737 Cowichan Bay Road, Cowichan Bay, BC. [Map].

40 Hours of Food and Flicks- Follow-Up
by Nathalie Carriere

An eye on grace-gallery, and 12B, before, and after-shift, on the weekend of the 40 Hours of Food and Flicks:

Big Night: Friday (July 11, 10:45 pm): The gallery windows are papered over to inspire a sense of perpetual night. The total of 20 tops are white linen covered, and the candelabras stuffed with long candles illuminate the tone set by gallery curator Rachel Zottenberg, and the committed staff at grace.

Rogue Chef Todd Braiden has set up 3 little camping gas burners and an impeccable mise on long linen covered L shaped tables. One top for cooking, and the other, for plating and finishing, gallery, stage left. He has a fridge to the right, a B-B-Q in the parking lot, and access to a holding and finishing oven in the Narrow’s galley kitchen.

The main wall of the gallery is the screening surface for the 40 hours of indi flicks, rounding out the event.

The Narrow Restaurant, just down the hall, is packed with the sweet sounds of well-executed mixes and Friday night regulars chillin’.

By this time, the gallery is staging its second of many 2 hour turn-overs. Rachel is rushing down the quieter hall between the 2 venues, where the photographic exhibition of Matthew Walker Timmons is interestingly displayed, clutching a cell, taking an 8 top rezo for 2 am that night.

It’s hard to know where to focus, at first- the sizzle of the halibut hitting the hot pan, the flicker of the candles hitting people’s faces, or the whites of the eyes all staring at the rad French/English rap video projected on the wall. Rachel says hello for a quick second.

A new flick is on (Todd is plating).

It’s a dark yarn about a young boy trying to absorb a world of bullies (mom included?) everyone is transfixed. This incredibly poignant little flick is followed with more bold moves and takes from others. This is hot. There is a whiff of truffle oil. This is serious business, but it’s easy, right, 2 hours into 20 tops with a movie, and what you’ve been setting up as ‘what you do for a living’ for years?

Twenty-seven hours in (Saturday July 12, 10:55 pm): Rachel’s eyes, although beautiful, are now doing an all too familiar, tired, yet skilled peripheral vision dance. Something requiring her attention has just caught the eye on the back of her head.

Service crew is standing at attention at the make-shift pass. Chef Todd is plating, punching out a variety of eye and under the breath commands. The plates levitate toward a well-rested, comfortable and entertained audience. The zone is on.

Fortieth hour (Sunday, July 13, 1:20 pm): The place is packed. The final seating is enjoying the flick as Chef Todd stirs feverishly at an ice cream gone ‘not going to listen to you.’

He reaches for a spoon to plate, misses it entirely, forgets, for a second, what he was after, and finally nails the decisive pissed off grab.

He puts the finishing touches on the last course. The audience, btw, is no longer watching the movie. They are watching him.

Rachel stares wildly at these final moments, her eyes, quite literally, spinning in their sockets. Hard to watch, but understood.

The indi film seems now to pathetically flicker on the wall like some bizarre, out of context relic. The plates go out. No one knows what to do or how to react. Chef Todd glares at the plates going out. Everything stops.

A member of the gallery staff, over a loud speaker, announces that this concludes the 40 Hours of Food portion of the event. “Thank you, Chef Todd of 12B.”

RCT: Yeah, so, this is mocha cheesecake, with ummm, a strawberry ice, errr
mousse, and berry coulis. Yeah, thanks for coming.

Two days later.

NC: Was it all you hoped it would be?

RCT: Oh yeah, and more. I remember Chef Tony (NWCAV) talking about that place when you you’ve cooked long enough. And one day you hit your stride. You find your voice, like a personal style. I didn’t know what he was talking about, but I caught a glimpse of that. I got to feel a sense of, that. It felt amazing. It was both freeing and inspiring. Like, I can do this my way. I’m starting to have my own ideas about how do to this, can’t wait to take this ‘tude, to 12B.

NC: How was the turn-out?

RCT: It was great. Surprisingly, for a weekend, a lot of cooks came down to support the event. The crew from Boneta came down, even. I loved it, was good to see those people. It was cool to see the coming together of the culinary and artistic culture. Good times.

NC: Was this a success for grace-gallery as well?

RCT: Sure, the buzz around the gallery was awesome, sold some pieces. The flicks really captured a broader audience. People, who would never come down to Main to check the scene, came to satisfy a curiosity and got blown away. The photographs by Matt are now on display at 12B. Some are for sale, book a night by emailing 12breservations@gmail.com. Come down and check it out!

NC: After cooking for 40 hours, do you still feel the way you did when you first challenged the restauranteurs in this town to stay open all night?

RCT: “ya, more than ever. It can be done, I know it. Just takes initiative, foresight, and the balls to make it happen. Yeah, I really hope someone goes for it.” Make the food great, I’ll be there.