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2nd annual Sacramento Food Film Festival a hit

The second annual Sacramento Food Film Festival was held last weekend at the Guild Theater. Presented by Slow Food Sacramento and supported by a slew of local sponsors, this year’s festival was better than ever. Founder and event organizer Catherine Enfield – who also blogs at Munchie Musings and was one of the originators of SactoMoFo – did a stellar job with both the planning and execution of the festival. In addition to lining up two films on Friday night and a whopping five films Saturday, Enfield organized a series of fun events to complement the films: discussions with filmmakers, a sushi tasting and a scavenger hunt, among others. Below are some scenes from Friday night at the festival.

The first film of the evening was "Quest for Local Honey" – a documentary film by two nascent Nevada County filmmakers. After the film, movie goers engaged in a Q&A with the producers while tasting some local honey. Audience members also took home boxes of organic honey graham crackers from Attune Foods, the same company that donated a beautiful wooden bee hive to the lucky winner of the night’s raffle.

“Quest” producers Jen-Rhi Winders (top) and Karin Meadows answer questions from the audience.
Lienert’s Honey provided samplings of dozens of honey varieties for the “Quest for Local Honey” audience to try.

When the discussion with the "Quest" filmmakers ended, we made our way to neighboring Old Soul to enjoy a generous sushi tasting with Mikuni and Kru, a fitting match for the next film of the night, the highly acclaimed "Jiro Dreams of Sushi." Beer from Hoppy Brewing Company, Hakushika Sake tastings, and cups of delicious, effervescent kombucha accompanied the innovative sushi dishes.

On the menu at Friday’s Sac Food Film Fest: socializing, sake, and sushi.

Mikuni chef and Chief Dreaming Officer, Taro Arai, and some of his mouth-watering creations.
Chef Arai gets fired up with salmon and asparagus “oshizushi” (left), and puts the finishing touches on some nigiri.

I consider myself a fairly experienced sushi connoisseur, so was pleasantly surprised to see two types of sushi I had never tried before: chef Taro Arai offered "oshizushi", also known as Osaka-style or "pressed" sushi, made with ocean fish varieties from Sunh Fish. In contrast, the lovely, mild fresh-water fish from Passmore Ranch incorporated in Chef Billy Ngo’s nigiri was an unusual and tasty change from the traditional salt-water sushi most of us are accostumed to.

Kru’s executive chef and owner, Billy Ngo, works his magic.
As guests munched the last pieces of sushi and sipped their choice of beverages, Enfield opened up a conversation on seafood sustainability with guest chefs Arai and Ngo.

Catherine Enfield – founder and event organizer of the Sacramento Food Film Festival.
The discussion was informative, but also entertaining… as you can see!

Left to right: Catherine Enfield, Taro Arai, and Mikuni executive chef Daniel Schmook share a laugh with the audience.
Billy Ngo of Kru joins the fun.

Enfield seems to have mastered the recipe for a successful food film festival. Current and relevant movie selections? Check. Fun, food-centric events? Check. Healthy theater snacks from Whole Foods? Ticket sales supporting great local organizations such as Slow Food Sacramento and The California Food Literacy Center? Priority seating for VIP ticket holders? Check, check and check! From start to finish, this was a high quality, well-organized, and thoroughly enjoyable event. Although you’ll have to wait a year for the next Sac Food Film Fest, I would suggest marking your calendars now with a reminder to check the event’s Facebook page and website. Trust me, you won’t want to miss it when the festival returns in 2014.

Dawn Balzarano is a local freelance food photographer, blogging at KitchenTravels.com.

Editor’s note: The “News Digest” goes out every Tuesday morning and highlights our best stories, photos and videos from the week prior. Sign me up.

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