The Food Film Fest is one of the oddest and most fun movie events in the game. The conceit is (fairly) simple: the audience watches a series of short films on some element of food culture, and as each dish is introduced on screen, servers distribute tasting plates of the same dish to all the viewers. And after each screening, a party is held where the theme food is served (along with a whole lot of relevant-themed beer and cocktails, of course). The events, which are held in NYC, Chicago, and Charleston SC, benefit local food-related charities, and they are seriously not to be missed.
This year, one night will be devoted to BBQ; that evening’s main film will be The Kings of BBQ: Barbecue Kuwait, about a team of pitmasters who headed to the Middle East to cook for the U.S. troops in 2010. The film’s main female star, Nicole Davenport, a restaurateur and all-around BBQ master, chatted with us about her history in BBQ, her experience with the Food Film Fest, and being a real-deal cowgirl.
BUST: How did you begin your "life in barbecue," so to speak?
Nicole: I grew up on a 4th generation ranch in Texas, and there, barbecuing is a way of life. We grew our own beef, had wild turkeys for Thanksgiving dinner, and there was always something on the smoker. Most weekends were spent cooking a brisket for church dinner or some other social event.
B: What do you think are some of the most common BBQ mistakes?
N: Both men and women tend to flip the meat too often, or they overcook most meats. Men usually want to rush the process, but you can't cheat the smoke and fire effects. Well you can, but it tastes like amateur night. As for women, I think they should barbecue more! The few women that do compete against men in barbecue competitions are very competitive and they often win.
B: Why do you think it's important for women to hone their BBQ skills?
N: My mom used to grill steaks every Sunday. I think this had an impact on me as woman because I saw grilling was about cooking good food and not just the “man’s job”. I’m single, so if I want to have great BBQ or a great steak, I usually end up cooking. It’s also important for women to have wide array of skills, otherwise we can get stuck in one corner of the kitchen. I feel most comfortable at the smoker, but I can also bake sourdough bread.
B: How did you get involved with the Food Film Fest?
N: In 2010, I was lucky to go to Kuwait to cook for the troops—it was me and four guys. We are all pit masters and the whole trip was surreal. This film is inspiring, sad, and hysterical. It captured a moment in time a special moment while we were at war. What a treat it was to take award winning bbq to the middle east and feed our soldiers. This film will be in this 2013 festival.
B: Which part of your Food Film Fest night are you most looking forward to?
N: The night we cook ribs for the public. I’ve never seen my cowgirl self on the big screen, so I might enjoy seeing just how I look from a theater seat. The film makes me cry every time I see it, so I’ll serve ribs, shed a tear, then laugh.
Check out the trailer for Davenport’s film here: