Alain Ducasse Takes Center Stage at Cannes (Cannes)
The celebrity chef's presence at the festival's Electrolux Agora Pavilion is the latest melding of cuisine and big-ticket film events.
In the run up to this year’s Festival de Cannes, Electrolux, a purveyor of fine kitchen wares, washing machines, and an unlikely Riviera candidate, quietly cooked up plans to host its first ever pavilion at the festival, alongside the Germans, the Slovenians and the Chinese.
During the 12-day event, none other than Alain Ducasse and his team will be cooking inside what will be known as the Electrolux Agora Pavilion, for opening and closing night, and for official events for the duration of the festival. These have thus far taken place inside the Palais.
Not only is a new Cannes dinner location news as far as film festivals go, but the Electrolux presence is also evidence of the latest trend to hit festivals -- the arrival and presentation of celebrity chefs and all that surround them, as a big part of the attraction.
"The Festival de Cannes is a source of lifestyle inspiration and, by being there with our professional chefs we hope to encourage our consumers to effortlessly create the same grandeur in their own homes by using our appliances," said Neil Gannon, head of marketing expertise at Electrolux
And it’s not just in Cannes that this trend can be detected.
In February at the Berlin International Film Festival, the world famous sommelier, Charlie Arturaola, wandered the 40th floor of a futuristic skyscraper on Potsdamer Platz, posing for photographers in a loud outfit, consisting of a burgundy colored Chinese silk jacket and a crocked black beret which was oh so "campagne."
An unlikely hero of this year’s festival, Arturaola was the star of the Argentine film, The Ways of Wine, one of several films that screened as part of the Culinary Cinema series, in which films about food and drink are accompanied by a gourmet dinner served by a Teutonic chef in a glitzy circus tent.
And back in January, Gordon Ramsay’s protégé, Markus Glocker, poked his head out of his make-shift kitchen in Park City at the Sundance Film Festival to speak to film reporters on cooking up a meal full of flavors to reflect Ralph Lauren’s Big Pony scent, which was presented to a select crowd of young entrepreneurs who had gathered for this exclusive dinner. Lauren was attending Sundance for the first time.
Read between the lines and it seems that celebrity chefs, and all that surround them, have become the latest species to descend on the film festival circuit.
Who could blame them for coming?
There is so much media focus placed on film festivals with their glut of stars and media that they are hard to beat for upping one’s profile or for getting a possible endorsement or photo op with celebs.
"It's great exposure and PR for the chef and the restaurant and of course it’s nice to get away from your own kitchen to share your ideas, cooking style and flavors with different people in a very special location like Park City," said Glocker, who usually cooks at The London in New York.
At Sundance, chefs like Glocker are presented through the House of Hype LifeStyle Lounge where the Ralph Lauren dinner took place, or as part of a second series, the ChefDance, which takes place further down Main Street.
The Berlin International Film Festival even begins with a sophisticated dinner after-party, with no less than eight chefs each presenting three-course meals, one on each floor of the Berlinale Palast where the opening film is screened. During the festival, the so-called Culinary Cinema series showcases a dozen-odd foodie films. This year that included the Japanese feature, Jiro Dreams of Sushi and The Recipe from the South Korean director Anna Lee.
"During the Berlinale 10 years ago, we began cooking with an awareness for quality and serving decent wines,” said Berlinale director Dieter Kosslick. “And then five years ago we launched Culinary Cinema to call attention to the relationship between film, culture, cuisine and the environment. Food brings people together and connects them to their surroundings. A country’s cuisine is a yardstick of its culture."
Aside from the great exposure for chefs, the presence of so many cooking types is also changing the game at festivals.
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