Quincy Erickson, catering chef: When I was a kid growing up in Indiana, we spent part of our summer vacation on the shores of Lake Michigan, and the highlight of one of those summer evenings was seeing a flying saucer. Everyone on the beach that night witnessed a large object fly forward and backward, first fast and then more slowly, and then it seemed to hover over the area for a while. We were never able to get any answers about what it really was.
Suzann Dvorken, private chef: I was an opera singer in my first career. The movie Close Encounters of the Third Kind had a profound effect on me because I recognized the Kodály method of hand signals and musical tones the earth scientists were using to communicate with the spaceship. I realized that as a classically trained musician, I would be someone who could communicate with the aliens.
John Bullington, Alamo Drafthouse chef: I'd been working at the Alamo Drafthouse about nine months when Tim League scheduled a Rolling Roadshow screening of a sci-fi movie called Serenity. The screen was set up out at the location where the recent version of The Alamo had been shot. The space cowboys in the movie eat Chinese food, so we served pot stickers and steamed buns to a crowd that included VIPs and some of the stars of the film. That night I realized providing people a way to connect with films through food was what my job is really all about.
Virginia Wood, Food editor: I owe my career as a cook to Star Trek. In my early college days at UT, I was the food buyer at the Ramshorn Co-op in the West Campus neighborhood, and I also cooked dinner a couple of nights a week. After a hard day on campus, many of my fellow residents kicked back with a bong just in time to watch daily Star Trek reruns in the late afternoon, tumbling down the stairs with illegal smiles and big appetites. The psychedelic enhancement made most of them very enthusiastic eaters – a great audience for someone teaching herself to cook.
Randall Grahm, president for life of Bonny Doon Vineyard: Though I am much more a bibliophile than a cineaste, there are seminal films that overcome my resistance to motion pictures. Prior to enology, my university major was philosophy, so I am more attracted to films that address the underpinnings of existence rather than those that simply dazzle for effect. Only one thing elevates Star Trek: First Contact beyond the level of mere eye candy, but it is key – the Borg's statement that "Resistance is futile." I liked this concept so much that it has become Bonny Doon's mission statement.
Wes Marshall, wine writer: I was about 6 or 7 years old when I first saw William Cameron Menzies' masterpiece, Invaders From Mars, which takes place in a small town where scientists are performing top-secret nuclear tests. The young protagonist, David, sees a flying saucer land in the dunes behind his house. Soon, people start disappearing and reappearing on the same dune, but when they come back out, they're zombielike and evil, with small devices planted on their necks. When his parents end up with the implants, David runs for help. But who can he trust? Ever since, when someone acts evil around me, I try to check their neck for that implant.
Mick Vann, Food writer: "I was a little tyke watching The Day the Earth Stood Still (1951) on TV and was so terrified that Earth wouldn't turn peaceful and the aliens would return that I memorized the phrase you had to use to keep Gort, the robot, from attacking with his death ray: 'Klaatu barada nikto.' ... Back in the Clarksville Cafe days, we would watch bad sci-fi movies in the afternoon while we prepped. One day The Giant Claw (1957) came on, and we spent the afternoon rolling on the floor laughing hysterically. It featured a giant buzzard marionette (with strings) from 'an anti-matter universe' and made Plan 9 From Outer Space seem like a Palme d'Or winner."
Aimee Olson, pastry chef instructor: Years ago when I worked at Texas French Bread, everyone in the bakery was obsessed with The X-Files. We spent hours deconstructing every aspect of each episode while we constructed and decorated cakes. I can't wait to see the new movie!