A Food Lover's Guide to the Napa Valley Film Festival


Logo courtesy of NVFF.


Carpe Diem Wine Bar’s ‘Fried Green Tomatoes’ offering; photo courtesy of NVFF.


Octogenarian sushi master Jiro Ono is front and center; still from JIRO DREAMS OF SUSHI is courtesy of NVFF.

By 707 correspondent, Deirdre Bourdet.

The first ever ~NAPA VALLEY FILM FESTIVAL~ takes place this November, and it’s rumored to be the biggest film festival debut since Tribeca. Though Napa’s event doesn’t exclusively feature films about food and wine, there is going to be a hell of a lot of fine eating and drinking going on between flicks.

The festival has set the tone by teaming up with Foodspotting for the Movies To Dine For culinary contest, in which participating restaurants from Napa to Calistoga feature cinematically inspired dishes or drinks on their menus during the festival. Think Lambshank Redemption, Blue Velvet Cupcakes, A Sidecar Named Desire, The Curious Case of Banana Flower Salad, etc. Visitors are encouraged to snap and post pictures of as many of the special dishes as they can (there’s a Foodspotting guide online to help you find them all). Awards will be given out on the last day of the festival for the diner who foodspots the most dishes, the restaurant whose dish is foodspotted the most times, and the chef or mixologist whose submission best combines creativity, presentation, and flavor. The jury for the third award includes kitchen rockstars like Christopher Kostow of Meadowood and Joshua Skenes of Saison, as well as the co-founder of Foodspotting, Bosch’s official food blogger, and, um, me.

Plenty of individual Film Festival events also highlight the Napa Valley’s most famous products. Thursday November 10th, guests attending the Opening Night Gala hosted by Margrit Mondavi at the Robert Mondavi Winery will be fed by fifteen kickass chefs that include Robert Curry (Auberge du Soleil), Victor Scargle (Bardessono), Perry Hoffman (étoile), Michael Gyetvan (Norman Rose and Azzurro), Bob Hurley (Hurley’s), Mick Salyer (ZuZu), and Patrick Kelly (Angèle). Then, an afterparty at Bottega with Michael Chiarello. On Saturday November 12th, VIP ticketholders get whisked away to one of a dozen other stunning winery venues for multi-course sit-down bacchanals prepared by Napa chefs.

Cooking demos by local restaurants will rage on the back deck of the Oxbow Public Market from 11am-5pm Thursday November 10th through Sunday November 13th, courtesy of Bosch. At 11am on Sunday the 13th there will also be a panel discussion entitled “The Rise of Foodie Culture.” And much to everyone’s surprise and delight, COPIA’s beautiful, bankrupt doors will reopen as the Oxbow Screening Room—though sadly only for the length of the festival.

Last but certainly not least, the festival is screening the film JIRO DREAMS OF SUSHI, a documentary about the life of Japanese sushi master Jiro Ono. You may recall seeing his three Michelin-starred establishment Sukiyabashi Jiro on the show No Reservations, when Tony B ate 15 courses of sublime sushi, and the rest of us drooled into our napkins. This new film about Jiro’s life plays Friday, Saturday, and Sunday at various times and venues. Check the event website for the full listing of happenings, and how to get festival passes or individual tickets for the film.

Napa Valley Film Festival, November 9th-13th, 2011, at numerous locations all over the Napa Valley.