Skip to content

Subscribe  |  Login  |  Account

Appetizing Evenings are on the Menu

Wellfleet Preservation Hall’s “Food on Film” series combines the big screen with great-tasting cuisine

Food on Film

Wellfleet Preservation Hall, at 335 Main Street in Wellfleet, was originally built as a Catholic church. Today the venue plays host to a range of events, including the organization’s annual “Food on Film” series. Photo by Charles Sternaimolo

Though the weather outside will likely be chilly, the screen will be heating up at Wellfleet Preservation Hall this winter.

The nonprofit venue in downtown Wellfleet and Lola’s Local Food Lab are together putting a fresh spin on “dinner and a movie” for the fifth year of “Food on Film.” Between January and April 2017, movie buffs, friends, families, couples, singletons, and everyone in between are invited to gather to watch thought-provoking feature films and graze on small plates inspired by the movies.

Like many great ideas, this series was born out of shared passions between friends. Vanessa Downing, Preservation Hall’s managing director, is a self-described movie buff who moved to Cape Cod in 2004 to co-manage three movie screens in Provincetown. She started working part time at Preservation Hall in 2011 and became managing director in 2013. Kim Shkapich, owner and chef of Lola’s Local Food Lab in Wellfleet, is not only a passionate foodie but also a movie fan.

In 2013, while Shkapich was volunteering at the hall, the two women saw an opportunity to combine food and film in the century-old building. Their first event shone the spotlight on Big Night, a 1996 movie centered on a failing Italian restaurant run by two brothers. Red-and-white-checkered tablecloths, Italian music, scattered candles, and timpano (a layered pasta dish featured in the film) transformed the hall into a film-worthy setting.

Appetizing evenings are on the menu, Winter 2016 Cape Cod Home | capecodlife.com

Photo by Shutterstock/MaraZe

“I didn’t know if people would want to see films there, if there was even a need, but we thought we’ll try it and see what happens,” Downing recalls. “When people showed up for that first event, we knew it was going to be a success. Everyone loved the vibe. They could sit there and chat with their friends, their partner, or maybe someone from the community who they don’t normally see.”

The screening drew about 50 attendees. Once they realized they had an audience, Downing and Shkapich knew they could build the event into a series as they always imagined it. Each year the pair gets together in the fall to brainstorm an intriguing theme and meticulously select the films and foods they’ll stir into the mix.

“Every year it’s a little more challenging,” Shkapich says. “We’ve now basically shown all of the go-to so-called foodie films. So we started to think outside the box in terms of theme.”

“We began to think about nourishment in a new way,” Downing adds, “nourishment of the soul, nourishment of the heart—appetite in more of a metaphysical sense.”

The 2017 theme, “Southern Odysseys: Culinary Sojourns,” is inspired by O Brother, Where Art Thou?, the Coen brothers’ 2000 film which follows three escaped convicts searching for treasure in the Deep South. While the movie does not have an obvious culinary tie, it’s one of Downing’s and Shkapich’s all-time favorites. All of the films for this season’s calendar take place in the South and include similar plot elements, such as protagonists’ odysseys or fugitives on the run. The other movies to feast on include Fried Green Tomatoes (1991), Chef (2014), Ulee’s Gold (1997), and a series of short documentaries produced by the Southern Foodways Alliance, an organization based at the University of Mississippi’s Center for the Study of Southern Culture that documents and studies the diverse food cultures of the American South.

This theme provides Shkapich an opportunity to exercise her creativity with Southern-inspired dishes, using local ingredients. “I love to cook,” Shkapich says. “I use this as a way to be really creative and experiment. The heart of the home is always the kitchen. And to me, the kitchen of Wellfleet Preservation Hall is the heart of the building.”

Appetizing evenings are on the menu, Winter 2016 Cape Cod Home | capecodlife.com

Photo by Charles Sternaimolo

Originally built as a Catholic church in 1912, Wellfleet Preservation Hall was renovated in 2010-2011 and is used today to host events ranging from art exhibits and farmers’ markets to fitness classes. For the “Food on Film” screenings, a mounted digital projector, motorized screen, and sound system infuse the event with life.

At each screening, Downing and Shkapich introduce the film with movie trivia and some background on why they chose it. Shkapich then presents the dishes to complement that night’s film. Wine and beer are available. While each screening takes a great deal of preparation and lots of volunteer help, Downing says the hard work pays off. In 2016, each screening sold out all 45 seats. For the 2017 series, tickets to individual films are $18, with proceeds being used to cover film rentals and food costs. Any additional income generated is designated for other Preservation Hall programs.

“It’s a lot of work,” Downing says, “but when we get up on that stage to introduce the film, we’re both just beaming because we’re so excited to be there and to see these people wanting to sit together to watch a film.”

“This is a time where people don’t have to leave their house ever to watch a film,” Downing adds. “You don’t have to go pay to see a movie that’s already out, but the fact that they do speaks volumes to the type of community we’re in. We’re doing something special, and they want to be a part of it. And them being there makes it special.”

Wellfleet Preservation Hall is at 335 Main Street in Wellfleet. For information on the series, or to purchase tickets, call the hall at 508-349-1800, or visit wellfleetpreservationhall.org.

Lillian Lowe is a freelance writer and a former editorial intern for Cape Cod Life Publications.

Dishing up memories

Appetizing evenings are on the menu, Winter 2016 Cape Cod Home | capecodlife.com

Photo by Shutterstock/xwing

With all this talk about “Food on Film,” the hungry minds at Cape Cod Life Publications started to wonder: What foods remind us of our favorite films? Here’s what we had to say:

Oreos and peanut butter/The Parent Trap (1998)

I absolutely adore The Parent Trap—the Lindsay Lohan one, I’ve actually never seen the 1961 original! There’s a touching scene at the beginning of the film where the twins Lindsay plays realize they are indeed sisters. In that scene, there’s a moment when they discover they both love dunking Oreos in peanut butter. So Oreos with peanut butter remind me of Halle and Annie and their special bond. – Haley Cote

PÂtÉ/The War of the Roses (1989)

In this film, Kathleen Turner and Michael Douglas play the Roses, a married couple whose relationship is coming to a bitter end. There’s a scene where they are sitting opposite each other at a long beautiful dining room table, a fabulous meal in front of them, and he asks if she has seen his dog (the dog has been missing). Then, while he’s eating, he reflects on the deliciousness of the pâté, saying, “This is superb.” He enjoys several more bites; then she slowly smiles and enunciates beautifully as she says, “Woof.”

– Laura Taylor

(Note: Animal lovers need not fear; the dog was actually alive and well outside.)

Chocolate ice cream/It’s a Wonderful Life (1946)

Chocolate ice cream evokes the It’s a Wonderful Life scene where young Mary Hatch whispers in George Bailey’s deaf ear, “George Bailey, I’ll love you ‘til the day I die.” Chocolate ice cream reminds me of this masterpiece feel-good movie even on the hottest summer days.

– Stacey Smith

Spaghetti/I Love You to Death (1990)

The character of Rosalie discovers that her husband, Joey, is having a number of flings. She cannot divorce Joey because of their religion, so Rosalie decides to murder him. There is a very funny scene where Joey has been drugged and is attempting to eat his spaghetti; he is so drugged, though, that his face falls into his plate of spaghetti.

– Judy Shortsleeve

Appetizing evenings are on the menu, Winter 2016 Cape Cod Home | capecodlife.com

Photo by Shutterstock/svariophoto

Sushi/East Side Sushi (2015)

I watched East Side Sushi a few weeks ago and really enjoyed it. It’s about a Mexican-American woman who gets a job working in the kitchen at a sushi restaurant. She loves to cook and begins teaching herself the precise art of making all different kinds of sushi. It’s a fun movie with a clash of cultures—and delicious-looking food!

– Matthew Gill

Bruschetta/Julie & Julia (2009)

Early in Julie & Julia, Amy Adams re-creates one of Julia Child’s favorite quick throw-together dishes: bruschetta. As she crisps the bread in the frying pan and chops the tomatoes and basil, drizzles the olive oil, and sits down to dive in with her husband, it’s true food porn at its best. And that is just the beginning of the movie, where 524 recipes are executed over a 365-day period. Don’t watch on an empty stomach! – Julie Wagner

Pizza/Saturday Night Fever (1977)

Opening scene of Saturday Night Fever—two slices of pizza with a topping of classic music by the Bee Gees and a Travolta strut.

– Steve Dewey

Chocolate/Willy Wonka & The Chocolate Factory (1971)

One of my favorite things to eat, chocolate (dark is my preference), reminds me of one of my favorite movies as a kid: Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory.

– Julie Rice

Southern odysseys and culinary sojourns

Appetizing evenings are on the menu, Winter 2016 Cape Cod Home | capecodlife.com

Photo by Shutterstock/Fer Gregory

Check out what films are on the menu in Wellfleet Preservation Hall’s 2017 “Food on Film” series. The screenings will be held at the hall on five Thursday evenings between January and April.

Information Courtesy of Vanessa Downing, Wellfleet Preservation Hall.

January 12

Fried Green Tomatoes (1991)

A feast of acting talent serves up stellar performances in this 1990s classic, reflecting southern manners and hospitality with a dash of hostility, anchored by a timeless tale of loyalty and love. Chocolate is the mnemonic choice of Evelyn Couch, as she is mesmerized by tales she isn’t certain are tall.

February 2

Chef (2014)

Oh for the freedom of the road! A charming story about a chef who learns the true meaning of “eating his words,” Chef is a rollicking road movie with great music and a hot griddle—but it does not accurately portray the rigors of service in a food truck.

February 23

Short Documentaries

A series of six documentaries produced by the Southern Foodways Alliance. The titles, which total about one hour in length, include They Came for Shrimp & Grits: The Life & Work of Bill Neal, The Gospel of the Alabama Oyster, and Hominy & Fry Bread.

February 23

Short Documentaries

A series of six documentaries produced by the Southern Foodways Alliance. The titles, which total about one hour in length, include They Came for Shrimp & Grits: The Life & Work of Bill Neal, The Gospel of the Alabama Oyster, and Hominy & Fry Bread.

March 16

Ulee’s Gold (1997)

A swarm of disruptions are abuzz in Ulysses Jackson’s life. Will the bees help this independent-minded and terse loner turn his troubles into Tupelo honey? Peter Fonda’s Oscar-nominated performance has been called the finest work of his career.

April 6

O Brother, Where Art Thou? (2000)

With a flood of great performances, a mix of classic blues, and a surreal, fantastical stroll, this is not your typical walk through the bluegrass park of the South.

To learn more about the 2017 “Food on Film” series, visit wellfleetpreservationhall.org.



You might also like: