Devour! The Food Film Fest

The Ritcey Report

Written by Lynn Healy-Goulet
November 9, 2017

Although the 2017 edition of Devour! The Food Film Fest wrapped up on October 29, it’s continued and ever-expanding success is well worth celebrating, if only in anticipation of next year. Did you know that Devour! is now the largest food and film festival in the world? What growth!

Founded in 2009 by Slow Food Nova Scotia, the first festival was launched at the Al Whittle Theatre in Wolfville and screened just 11 retrospective films with tickets sales of approximately 1,000. Fast-forward to 2011, and 30 new films from around the world were screened, with ticket sales of about 2,000. And now, in 2017?

Screenings, workshops, tasting tours

68 screenings. 17 culinary, film and photography workshops. Five local tasting tours. Three celebrity chef dinners. A street food party and what organizers call a chowder smackdown. Plus an apple pie-baking contest called Why Your Pie? Wow!

This year, Devour! sold over 13,000 tickets, an achievement that triples the local population of Wolfville, and enabled the festival to garner international accolades like ‘Canada’s Secret Foodie Destination’ from The Hollywood Reporter, and the ‘New Napa of the North’ on Gusto TV.

And If you didn’t make it to the festival this year, food writer Helen Earley1 reporting in Eatnorth (October 11, 2017) alerted us to ‘look out for satellite Devour! events around the country and internationally. The first one is Devour! A Film & Food Weekend at Fogo Island Inn, on the weekend of November 3rd.’

The content and character of the festival have developed significantly over the intervening years since its inception and, let us remember, it was actually in 2013 that the event was re-branded to Devour! The Food Film Fest. According to an instructive and entertaining statistical profile of the festival that year and in 2014, Wikipedia2 reported:

Astonishing growth

‘4,000 attendees took in 70 new food films from around the world, an opening night reception and gala film with special guests, a food truck rally, experiential wine and cheese tours, three five-course meals based on the films, a cocktail pop-up party, a cinematic dine-around brunch at the Wolfville Farmers Market, an awards showcase with a 15-part dessert constructed by culinary students and eight industry workshops.

In 2014, attendance increased to 6,120. The program involved about thirty Chefs, many visiting filmmakers and industry guests, 14 workshops, 13 tasting tours, more than a dozen dinners, parties and events and over 50 new food and wine films from around the world. A number of local Acadian dishes were included. The event was opened by Anthony Bourdain, curating his favourite food film.’

Recent editions of the festival

If you didn’t make it to the bash in recent years and this year, let me give you a taste of what you missed. The fifth edition of Devour! (2015) was opened by actor Bill Pullman, the sixth edition (2016) was opened by Chef Dominique Crenn and featured a theme celebrating the Power of Women in Gastronomy.

The festival welcomed over 10,000 attendees, hosted 94 unique events over five days including 80 new food and wine films in 30 screenings, and ran 24 workshops, 20 tasting tours, and 20 dinners, parties and events.

What follows is just a sampling of the extraordinary events at Devour! The Food Film Fest3 that took place this year:

Devour! Opening Gala Reception presented by Taste of Nova Scotia where Nova Scotia’s finest chefs come together to create a feast for the senses showcasing spectacular local cuisine.

A Feast for the Senses on Screen where programmers have put together one of the best culinary cinema programs featuring over 80+ new films hot off the global film festival circuit.

Devour! The Workshops featured a comprehensive series of inspiring panels & interviews, hands-on workshops and industry sessions for all.

Devour! The Bounty of King’s County included delicious food and wine-focused excursions throughout the county including the popular All You Need is Cheese Express, the Bubbles Bus, the Cajun-Acadian Express and the Crafty Beer Bus.

The Spotlight Gala is the main event on the Saturday night of the Festival. It featured an important film, hot off the global film festival circuit, followed by a Q&A with the filmmakers and a celebrity chef-driven dinner at the Wolfville Famers’ Market inspired by the film.

Devour! Throughout the year is part of Devour’s commitment to produce a robust slate of activities throughout the year to keep the food, film and fun alive all the time.

Driven by a focus on local agriculture, home of many celebrated chefs and situated in the heart of wine country, Wolfville appeals to the foodie in everyone. It’s a not-to-be-missed event!