Devour! The Food Film Fest Launch at The Drake

Ivy Knight’s 86’d at The Drake Hotel – a weekly event which happens on Mondays, is open to the public, and has offerings of some free food and booze – is always epic, but perhaps last night’s was one of the most memorable.

The program launch for the fourth annual Devour! The Food Film Fest might seem like small potatoes compared to the TIFF events happening around town, but for those of us devoted to all things food, it was an affair to remember.

First of all, Nova Scotian food and wine flowed, which was reason enough to go. Guests had the chance to sip on Nova 7 wine, which famously sells out as soon as its stocked on shelves, and snack on fresh oysters and homemade apple strudel made with Nova Scotia’s stunning juicy, sweet SweeTango apples (part honeycrisp, part zester).

Celebrity Jason Priestley - scheduled to appear at the festival and Devour! Advisory Board member - charmed the audience with his quick wit and grace. In town directing an episode of Rookie Blue, Jason shared his veritable knowledge of Nova Scotian wine and food and Toronto’s ever-changing restaurant scene with me over cocktails. Impressive indeed.

Other famous faces in the crowd – award-winning executive producer Rachel Low (Pitchin’ In, Opening Soon), TV host Bob Blumer, TV& Film writer/producter Ken Finkleman, Food Network host Laura Calder, cookbook author and film-jury member Lucy Waverman and Toronto chef Carlos Fuenmayor.

A food film fest in Wolfville, Nova Scotia in November might not garner the same attention as TIFF, but there are plenty reasons to go:

Michael Howell, Devour! Executive Director (former owner of Tempest, an award-winning restaurant in Wolfville and current high-end caterer – his last gig was for Justin Trudeau) told me it is  the world’s largest festival focused on food and film. Right here in Canada? How amazing is that?

- You can get caught up in 55 films dedicated to food (18 new features and 37 shorts) including the world premiere of Canadian film Shuckers, directed by Jon Bietcher and produced by Chef Chuck Hughes, as well as Food Chains by Sanjay Rawal and El Somni, and "an operatic multimedia feast" from Spanish director Franc Aleu.

- The area is known for its wine and agriculture, so you know you’re going to eat and drink well while you’re there.

- There will be 15 hands-on sessions and five dinners inspired by feature films. Talk about your chance of a lifetime.

- Emmy award-winning CNN journalist and author Anthony Bourdain will be at the opening gala, where 16 local chefs who will create a meal to remember. Following the gala, Bourdain will introduce the opening festival screening of Eat Drink Man Woman, participate in an audience Q&A and host a one-hour book signing at the Devour! Opening Gala Post-Reception (Other famous faces to attend the festival include New York magazine food critic Gael GreenTop Chef competitors Jesse Vergen, Connie DeSousa, and Todd Perrin; and aforementioned charmer, Jason Priestley).

- This year marks the beginning of a relationship with the Berlin Film Festival, which combined with Antony Bourdain choosing to attend this event(in a small town in Nova Scotia, instead of the thousands of high-profile invites he receives) means that next year, it will probably be next-to-impossible to secure tickets.

I believe this will be THE food event of the year in Canada. A chance to see extraordinary food films, a little star-gazing, and experience some of the best food and wine the country has to offer?

Sign me up.

The full program and tickets for the festival’s screenings and events happening November 12-16, will be available on Friday, September 22 through the Devour! website and Ticketpro. Tickets will also be available by phone at 1-888-311-9090 and at all Ticketpro locations in Nova Scotia.