Whether it’s “Top Chef,” “Iron Chef” or “Naked Chef,” food and entertainment make a popular combo. Since its first appearance as a subject for the Berlinale Talent Campus in 2006, Culinary Cinema has become a festival fixture.
The program combines food-themed films, including narrative and documentaries, with readings, symposia, tea-time tastings and, for five selected films, €60 ($81) gourmet meals prepared by some of Berlin’s high-end chefs, who talk about their art at the dinners. The Slow Food movement, which started in Italy and spread across Europe and to the U.S., has been a theme over the past five years. Other topics range from the luxury of wine to the simple necessity of water, while the programing casts a wide net that goes beyond the confines of the kitchen.
This year’s themes cover the zen of cooking (“Jiro Dreams of Sushi”), environmental farming (“Taste the Waste”), food as a path to self-realization (“The Way of Wine,” “Toast”) and the garden as social metaphor (“Our Garden of Eden”). There’s even a comedy on eating disorders (“Food and the Maiden”), as well as the butcher’s relationship to pork (“Divine Pig”).
Films are presented in the Culinary Cinema series with crossover screenings in the Berlinale’s Special, Panorama and Generation sections.
While the aim of the series is to use food to raise awareness, the highlight is, of course, the lavish meals, with menus arranged to complement the evening’s film.
While it’s too late now for reservations — program director Thomas Struck said dinners are sold out — Tuesday’s menu for Nicolas Carreras’ “The Way of Wine,” prepared by chef Sonja Fruehsammer, features a goat cheese and olive appetizer, an artichoke and pepper entree or short ribs and sirloin, with chocolate mousse for dessert.