Food-o-File

Virginia B. Wood's view from the "rousing success" of the recent Eat, Drink, Watch Movies series.

The View From Here

Nearly 350 film-loving foodies attended our Eat, Drink, Watch Movies series at the Alamo Drafthouse North earlier this month, and in addition to all the fun we had, their participation made it possible for us to send a sizable check to the Capital Area Food Bank this week. While this year's guests were in the theatres enjoying themselves, I had an excellent seat in the Drafthouse lobby, observing teams of food service professionals working like well-oiled machines to serve the incredible meals to filmgoers.

The service was a remarkable sight in itself, considering each movie menu offered a different set of culinary challenges. Both Like Water for Chocolate and Babette's Feast are less than two hours long and had five courses of food for each of the 110 guests. This caused us to run out of movie before we ran out of food, although the folks sipping El Meson's Mexican hot chocolate during the film credits didn't seem to mind. At nearly three hours, The Godfather offered a much more leisurely dining experience for 125 people, but the Vespaio team worked furiously, keeping the plates warm and the food hot in the lobby on a chilly evening. That night, the waitstaff told us patrons laughed out loud at the chocolate guns and horse heads garnishing Vespaio's exquisite cannolis.

Surely the most surreal experience of the entire series happened on the last night. Chef Jean-Luc Salles and the student chefs of the Texas Culinary Academy set up an off-premise kitchen in the theatre lobby and were plating up the elegant haute French cuisine of Babette's Feast. Designated members of the skilled Drafthouse waitstaff seamlessly distributed both wine and food at lightning speed. Across the way, groups of laughing young couples were arriving to see jackass the movie. I sat among them in the lobby with a plate of buckwheat blini slathered with crème fraîche and osetra caviar and a glass of Veuve Clicquot champagne. Buckets of hot buttered popcorn, french fries, and beer swirled by on the way to other theatres. Where else but Austin could you have a night like that?

Check out the ad on p.18 for a complete list of all the individuals and businesses that made this year's film series such a rousing success. I consider myself very lucky to have worked with all of them and am grateful for the many contributions that made Eat, Drink, Watch Movies the success it was this year. At this point, we plan to repeat this phenomenal event on Valentine's Day and again later in the spring, so start making lists of food films you'd like to see presented in the series. E-mail Karrie League at owner@drafthouse.com or me at vbwahotr@austinchronicle.com with suggestions. See you there.

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KEYWORDS FOR THIS STORY

Karrie League, Eat, Drink, Watch Movies, Alamo Drafthouse North, Vespaio, Jean-Luc Salles, Texas Culinary Academy, Capital Area Food Bank, El Meson

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