2012 Chicago Food Film Festival
900 N North Branch Street
Chicago, IL 60642
The NYC Food Film Festival (Oct. 17-‐21, 2012) and The Chicago Food Film Festival (Nov. 15-‐17, 2012) are the only festivals in the world where guests get to Taste What They See on the Screen…sometimes right in their seats! Hosted by Travel Channel host George Motz, the documentary filmmaker behind the award-‐winning “Hamburger America” film, book, and mobile app, the Festival presents the best, and the most memorable, of the world’s favorite and exotic foods on the big screen…and then serves them to the guests.
I’ve been privileged to attend Chicago twice now and NYC three times but moreover, I’ve been incredibly blessed to actually be a part of the staff. 3 years ago I attended the Brooklyn Burger n’ Beer Garden at the NYC Food Film Festival and I was instantly hooked. You watch movies on a screen and right at the instant where you’re thinking “I wonder what that tastes like,” they hand you that food item. Hence their motto “Taste What You See On The Screen.” There is nothing like it and soon after the festival, I begged to be a part of it. I’m now on the executive staff of the festival where I over see marketing, partnerships and my favorite part, Beer.
As a Food Blogger, it’s my natural desire to scribe historically on this site about the Food we ate and the event itself. I certainly took more than enough pictures to give you a good idea of what Food was served & eaten as well as a recap of the films, guests and fun. As I sat down to do it after looking at the great slide show on Serious Eats Chicago, the fantastic review including details on the exclusive Midnight Ramen event at El Ideas on Zagat or the entertaining write up on Verbicide about our Whisky Night, I had another thought.
Maybe you read all of those. Maybe you were at the Festival. Maybe you have already scrolled through the dozens & dozens of gorgeous photos on the Food Film Festival Facebook page. I know I have. So instead, I am going to give you an inside look. I am going to take you on a journey of what happens behind the curtain of the most unique Food event on the planet. But instead of showing you pictures like this:
I am going to show you what the staff of the Food Film Festival ate when we weren’t serving you all the tasty Foods from the Films (which we ate too!) We’re Food fanatics just like you and even though we worked for long hours every day to bring the Festival to you, we still found the time to eat at some of our favorite local Chicago Eateries. So with that I give you …
Chicago Food Film Fest – Taste What’s Behind The Screen
What the Festival staff eats when they’re aren’t serving Festival guests!
The Wieners Circle
2622 N Clark St
Chicago, IL 60614
Chicago is a Hot Dog city for sure. Some would say there is nothing like a Chicago Dog with all it’s crazy toppings. I’m not one of them because I don’t like a Dog with more than Mustard unless it’s a proper Detroit-style Coney Dog. But man, Chicagoans love their Dogs! While there’s many places to get them, which will raise heated arguments over which is the best, I think there’s none finer than the Wieners Circle. If you’ve never been, be sure to order the Chocolate Shake.
1411 North Wells Street
Chicago, IL 60610
The night before the fest the entire staff goes out for a meal together. One of the favorites is Old Jerusalem. Located in Old Town Chicago, you will be hard pressed to find something more authentic than this Middle Eastern restaurant. It’s fresh, delicious, flawlessly made food done the old way. They don’t serve alcohol so you are welcome to BYO and be sure to ask for the off-menu Lamb Kibbeh. Whoa.
Al’s Italian Beef
In Philly they eat Cheesesteaks but in Chicago, they eat Italian Beef Sandwiches. While there’s several places that serve them, no one does it like Al’s. They’ve been serving these tasty Sandos since 1938 that have since been called one of the “Top 10 Sandwiches in America.” It’s a long roll covered in thinly sliced Beef that’s been marinating for a long time. The sandwich is then covered in the juice and should be ordered with Giardiniera a pepper based Relish. If the pictures below don’t get you craving one, the story behind Al’s will most certainly do the trick.
Billy Goat Tavern, Original
Near Tribune Towers and Wrigley Building
430 N. Michigan Ave at Lower Level
Chicago, IL 60611
While it’s not my favorite Burger, The Billy Goat Tavern certainly has earned it’s place in the Burger time line. Made famous by that “Cheezborger” skit we’ve all seen from Saturday Night Live, the Billy Goat is a really fun place for a late night Beer and a Snack. The Burger is served on my least favorite roll of all times, the way too thick and dry Kaiser Roll. The Patties are thin and overcooked. The Cheese, well it’s just a regular old slice of American. But, when you add Grilled Ham, Bacon and Egg, Extra Cheese and a 2nd Patty, well that my friends is how you achieve Food Porn. Just ask Chef Will Shear.
Read my full review of the Billy Goat Tavern here.
Top Notch Beefburgers
2116 West 95th Street
Chicago, IL 60643
Top Notch is a good 45 minute drive from Kendall College where the Food Film Festival is held and going there was worth every moment of stress it caused in our day to take 3 hours to go there. This is not only one of the best Burgers in Chicago, it is one of the best in America. It’s a true American classic that’s been in business for 70 years serving fresh, never frozen, house-ground Beefburgers.
The Top Notch Beefburger is so good that your your first thought after just one bite will be “I’m going to need a second one of these.”
Read my full review of Top Notch Beefburgers here.
Goddess and Grocer
A hearty Breakfast is a key component to a long, activity filled day. With all we have to do, we really don’t get time to sit around and have one. Enter Goddess and Grocer. The best way I can describe one of these is a localized version of a Starbucks. In Chicago that means Intelligentsia Coffee, some of the best I have ever had. They also have fresh made food which is mostly made up of Sandwiches. Their Croissant Sandwich with Fluffy Scrambeled Eggs, Prosciutto, Fresh Mozzarella and Basil sans Tomatoes but with a little Sriracha is a great kick start to the day.
6 East Chestnut Street
Chicago, IL 60611
When you’re tired, overworked and most likely a little hungover from an 18 hour day filled with Avocado Dishes, Single Malt Whisky & Midnight Ramen, a big, hot & fresh Breakfast is exactly what what the Burger Doctor (who in the case is George Motz.) For that, try one of the most well known Breakfast jams in Chi-Town-Bang-Bang, the Tempo Cafe. While we were at Kendall College packing and cleaning, George arrived with an array of Omelets, Pancakes, Waffles, Breakfast Meats, Potatoes and Toast. Combine that with leftover Food Film Festival goods like Jarlsberg Cheese Dip, Avocados from Mexico, Bobtail Ice Cream, Pepper Relish from Bushel & Pecks and you have a backstage flavor feast like none other.
501 North Ogden Avenue
Chicago, IL 60642
I love Bourbon, Beer, Burgers, Hot Wings and Rock and Roll and that’s pretty much defines the bar I own in NYC, Idle Hands Bar. When I am in other cities, I look for similar spots and in Chicago that spot is the Twisted Spoke. As you’re driving down Ogden Ave, look for the rotating Skeleton on a Motorcycle atop the restaurant, you can’t miss it. Nicole and I popped in real quick for a bite and an eat to hold us over until the El Ideas Chicago VIP dinner. While you’re there take a moment to choose from a huge array of carefully selected Whiskies, Bourbon, Scotch and Craft Beers and don’t miss out on a house specialty, Flaming Lemon Wings. If you’ve ever had Greek Saganaki Cheese, it’s served table side while on fire. You blow it out and eat it. The Twisted Spoke Flaming Lemon Wings are marinated in lemons, chilis and garlic, olive oil, onion, parsley, parsley & grilled pita and then set on fire, just like the Cheese.
DMK Burger Bar
2954 North Sheffield Avenue
Chicago, IL 60657
The best thing to do while eating Burgers is do it with friends. The next best thing to do is eat them with Craft Beers. If you’re looking for a great Craft Beer & Burger experience that is also a cool spot to hang out, try the DMK Burger Bar. While you could certainly order a plain old Cheeseburger here, that’s not the reason for the seasoning. DMK has an incredibly robust list of toppings and preparations which spans not only their Burger menu but also their Salads, Apps, Mac N Cheese and Milkshake selections. If you are into boring standards, a trip to DMK may require you to wear a helmet and seat belt.
It was a full on, 5 day blast of Food, Films and Fun and I can’t wait to do it again next year!
To see more of my photos including back stage prep, Food served, Beers and pictures from both the Midnight Ramen & VIP Dinner at EL Ideas, please visit the Burger Conquest Facebook Photo page. You can also find some fun photos on Keizo Shimamoto’s Go Ramen Blog.
THE BURGER COUNTQUEST