Kingussie’s annual winter festival, Food on Film, brings the big screen to the rural Highlands of Scotland in a unique way every February to celebrate and explore the world of food. Filmmakers and food producers have been gathering in mid-winter for the past five years in this beautiful area of the Cairngorms National Park to share their passions and skills, delighting an ever increasing audience of dedicated festival goers.
Founded in 2008 by French chef Lydie Bocquillon of The Auld Alliance Restaurant, filmmaker Helen Graham of Hand Knitted Films and John Tracy, head teacher at Kingussie High School, Food on Film now works with groups across the community including a local film society, an artists’ society, a bookshop that works with those with learning difficulties, the Primary school, the Girl Guides, the local Floral Artists, the Women’s Institute and many more local organisations and businesses.
The founders believe that communities working together can create positive and dynamic events, bringing visitors and business to the area as well as providing entertainment and opportunities for local residents. They are also passionate about engaging, empowering and inspiring young people about local, regional, real food – and helping them to explore, discover and appreciate the story of food – from the field to their plates.
The centrepiece of the festival is a bustling Food Hall which has become a showcase for the best of Highland produce, featuring celebrity cooking demonstrations, food and drink tastings and a busy cafe. Films about food are screened throughout the festival and food is served at every screening. The finale of the event features a red carpet Oscar Night where young people show films about food they’ve made themselves is the.
This year’s festivities began with the opening of a Food Art exhibition on Thursday 2ndFebruary. Kingussie’s Iona Gallery hosted a collection of specially created food art, inspired by a documentary called “The Garden”. Festival goers had a chance to watch the film as well as tasting samples of local food and drink that producers went on to sell at the Food Hall on Saturday 4th.
Young people were particularly involved on Friday 3rdwhen BBC Masterchef finalist Fi Bird ran a Wild Food Cooking Workshop at the local Primary school, courtesy of Scottish Natural Heritage. In the evening High School students from across the Highlands delighted their Oscar Night audience with eleven short films about food which they had made throughout the year, while along the road at a local pub a Mexican meal was served before the screening of classic Mexican foodie film “Like Water For Chocolate”.
Saturday the 4thsaw the hugely popular Food Hall fill the town’s Leisure Centre with around 500 festival goers throughout the day – enjoying cooking demonstrations from two celebrity chefs, Fi Bird and Colin Bussey, as well as chocolate making and whisky tasting master classes. Producers were selling a wide range of local produce including award winning smoked trout pate, artisan breads, smoked game, meat pies and haggis, artisan cheeses, rape seed oils, locally made apple juice, freshly made lemonade, stone baked pizzas, single bean coffee, tapenades and dressings, preserves, stovies, soup and plenty of wonderful cakes.
Later in the afternoon there was free chocolate at the Children’s Matinee provided by the Scottish Fair Trade Forum, and a Vintage Tea Party with the Scottish cinematic premiere of “Toast” – the Nigel Slater biopic – where gorgeous cakes were provided by the local branch of the Scottish Rural Women’s Institute. In the evening a fabulous Bollywood in Badenoch Night wowed a sell-out audience with Indian dancing, curries cooked by the chef from the Cairngorm Mountain restaurant and some specially commissioned ice creams from Boat of Garten for this Scottish premiere of a film made in Delhi – “Cooking With Stella”. Chef Steven Anderson said “The Chocolate Coconut Curry flavour is a bit of fun, the Whisky Chai ice cream was certainly a challenge as you can lose some flavour when you burn the alcohol off, but I think we got there.” Sweet Pistachio and Saffron ice cream and frozen Spiced Mango yoghurt were also on the menu.
Food on Film concluded on Sunday 5thFebruary with a delicious carvery lunch at a local hotel followed by a screening of the classic silent movie “The Gold Rush”. If this wasn’t enough for festival fans, there was a final foodie film in the evening called “Eat, Drink, Man, Woman” – a Chinese film which was, of course, preceded by a Chinese meal!
Food on film website: www.kingussiefoodonfilm.co.uk
Follow the team on Twitter @foodonfilm
Some of the Food On Film festival producers’ websites