When our duck confit arrives at our table or a glass of champagne is slipped into our hands, it’s rare that we get a glimpse of the multitude of steps it takes to deliver these finessed components.
On May 7 at Festival Hall, Chefly Screen Shots will reveal to us home cooks both the mundane and intricate daily tasks of some of Calgary’s most well-known culinary and beverage experts. A part of City Palate’s “20 for 20” (20 events celebrating the magazine’s 20th anniversary), the night will include original film, music and of course, food.
Chefly Screen Shots was inspired by Andy Warhol’s Screen Tests, of which he produced over 500 of the short films.
“I was thinking one day about how wonderful it is to have the camera trained on one subject for a long period of time — kind of the reverse of what is normally on the screen, where the camera dashes from one image to another frantically,” says Gail Norton, publisher of City Palate.
“I immediately thought of food and chefs and thought it would be a fun take on the Warhol shots, hence Chefly Screen Shots.”
Norton and “20 for 20” event coordinator, Jane McCullough, approached Calgary filmmaker Ramin Eshraghi-Yazdi to produce the series. What resulted were 13 short films detailing an everyday task for which 14 of the city’s best chefs, cocktail and wine experts are known. To accompany the silent, black and white films, Chris Vail of Six Degrees Music and Sound, along with composers Andrea Wettstein and Alec Harrison, have arranged original music, which will be played live during the event.
“It’s a commemoration of these chefs and the Calgary culinary scene and how amazing it is,” says Eshraghi-Yazdi. “I personally feel like Calgary is top tier. I think it holds its own in the culinary world among other great cities like Montreal and Toronto. The quality of the food and chefs we have are really, really high in relation to our population and in general because we are such a new city to the culinary scene.”
Xavier Lacaze, concept chef at Briggs Kitchen + Bar, and formerly of both Home Tasting Room and Muse Restaurant & Lounge, was one of the chefs chosen to participate in the project. Born and raised in France, it was easy for Lacaze to choose the everyday task he would perform for the cameras: deboning a duck.
“Duck are my roots, they’re where I come from,” says Lacaze. “I’ve cooked duck for a long time and I feel like I’m known in Calgary for cooking duck and for being the ‘duck guy’ amongst other chefs. These short films are very real and comparable to what we do every day. It’s a great representation of what chefs are and what chefs do.”
To bring the Chefly Screen Shots to life, Calgary musician Chris Vail (of Key to the City and Vailhalen fame) was asked to write original songs to be played while the films were screened. Vail, letting his imagination run wild, decided to involve other composers at Six Degrees Music and Sound, the company for which he works.
“The songs are for the most part, not literally about food,” says Vail. “It’s almost like a parallel storyline where there are some moments lyrically that will relate to what you’re seeing. Sometimes it will feel like a coincidence and sometimes you’ll wonder if the song is a story about the person you’re watching making this food. And some are tongue-in-cheek like the song accompanying Xavier Lacaze breaking down a duck—it’s an emotional ballad from the perspective of the duck.”
Along with Xavier Lacaze, the other culinary and beverage experts featured are Jackie Cooke from Avec Bistro, Kevin Kent from Knifewear, Nathan Head from Milk Tiger Lounge, Kevin Turner from Symons Valley Roadhouse, Aviv Fried and Michal Lavi from Sidewalk Citizen Bakery, Judy Wood from MEEZ Cuisine, Justin Leboe from Model Milk, Rogelio Herrera from Alloy, Nicole Gomes from Nicole Gourmet, Glen Manzer from Bonterra Trattoria, Matthew Altizer from The Cookbook Co. Cooks, and Steve Smee from UNA Pizza + Wine.
Chefly Screen Shots will be screened May 7 at Festival Hall. Tickets ($60) are available at citypalate.ca.
By Laura Lushington
Photos: Courtesy of City Palate