TV Showrunners Phil Rosenthal, Dave Erickson, Jason Priestley to Headline Virtual Devour! Fest

Phil Rosenthal Dave Erickson Jason Priestley
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Master chef Jacques Pepin will cook recipes from his Connecticut home and Disney's 'Ratatouille' will get a drive-in screening as the cinema-culinary mashup heads online amid the pandemic.

The Devour! The Food Film Fest has unveiled the lineup for its first-ever virtual festival amid the pandemic, with Everybody Loves Raymond creator Phil Rosenthal, Jason Priestley and Fear the Walking Dead showrunner Dave Erickson set to headline the annual cinema-culinary mash-up.

Rosenthal, a foodie enthusiast known for his Netflix series Somebody Feed Phil, will take part in a virtual Q&A for the opening night movie, Walt Disney's Ratatouille, after it receives a drive-in screening near Wolfville, Nova Scotia.

Devour! Fest during its first nine years perfected in-person and film-inspired five-course dinners and workshops as movies like Gabriel Axel's Babette's Feast, co-director Stanley Tucci's Big Night and Ang Lee's Eat Drink Man Woman allowed cinema-goers to see eye-popping gastronomy, but never to taste it.

But now as the pandemic forces Devour! along with other film festivals into a hybrid, mostly-online space, Beverly Hills 90210 alum Priestley is set to take part in a virtual cooking demonstration with cookbook writer Bob Blumer. And Erickson (Marco Polo, Sons of Anarchy) will take part in a virtual conversation about how to effectively pitch film and TV projects in Hollywood and elsewhere.

"We're reimagining and presenting the best possible version of Devour! in a new, exciting and safe way. Our goal is to deliver a meaningful and engaging event in a time when people need to connect more than ever," Michael Howell, executive director of Devour!, said in a statement.

Other 2020 edition highlights for Devour! include PBS master chef Jacque Pepin demonstrating how to cook recipes from his upcoming cookbook, Quick and Simple, as he appears virtually from his home in Connecticut.

Lia Rinaldo, managing director of Devour! said the move online opened the way to finding new and wider audiences. "We hope that this year's hybrid format helps us welcome a new, expanded fan base to Atlantic Canada in the future," she argued.

As Devour! pivots during the pandemic to virtual culinary workshops for its Oct. 21 to 25 edition, the festival will also stream a number of food-themed movies. These include director Angel Parra's Free Way, a documentary about three-star Michelin chef Raul Balam; Jenni Toivoniemi's Games People Play, from Finland; Robert Tinnell's Feast of the Seven Fishes, starring Joe Pantoliano; Marcus Vetter's The Forum; and The Truffle Hunters, by directors Michael Dweck and Gregory Kershaw.