Highlighting local culinary pros and chefs of color, the eight annual Flatirons Food Film Festival kicks off Jan. 28 – Boulder Daily Camera

After keeping fans of the culinary arts entertained with virtual dinner and a movie experiences and chef-led Zoom cooking classes throughout the pandemic, the Flatirons Food Film Festival will return with its eighth annual installment on Jan. 28. The eight-day online event includes the screening of 10 feature films, three short film programs, speakers, corresponding take-out dishes from local eateries and more.

A still of renowned pitmaster Rodney Scott is pictured in the documentary short “Full Circle: The Ballad of Rodney and Roscoe.” The short will be shown as part of the Flatirons Food Film Festival that runs from Jan. 28 to Feb. 5. (Full Circle/ Courtesy photo)

“Our festival is a celebration of food culture and community,” said Julia Joun, festival founder. “This is a time when all of us could use some fun that also connects on a deeper level. Food is an essential expression of culture and how we come together.”

While in years prior Flatirons Food Film Festival would provide a magnitude of in-person screenings, rooftop happy hours and Q&As, this year the cyber offerings allow for a broader and international audience to partake in the gastronomy-themed festivities.

“The accessibility of a virtual event enables us to safely share a unique, uplifting and delicious experience with a wider audience,” Joun said. “The prospect of being useful right now feels good.”

The selection of films provides an intimate glimpse at chefs of color. Viewers will get to witness the barbeque magic of renowned Southern pitmasters Rodney Scott and Roscoe Hall II in the documentary short “Full Circle: The Ballad of Rodney and Roscoe.”

In the documentary short “Soul of the Kitchen,” Jarita Frazier King, founder of the Natchez Heritage School of Cooking and owner of one of the only female black-owned restaurants in Natchez, Miss., honors the talented matriarchs who have passed on their passion for soul food.

A still from the documentary short “Soul of the Kitchen” that spotlights Jarita Frazier King, founder of the Natchez Heritage School of Cooking and owner of one of the only female black-owned restaurants in Natchez, Miss. (Soul of the Kitchen/ Courtesy photo)

“This is a year when it’s impossible to look away and important for us to understand who we are and how we got here,” Joun said. “Indigenous and Black American people and food are an integral part of our national identity and history. We have not acknowledged and honored their contributions enough.”

Ticketholders have the option to watch live programs when they first become available or later access the recorded programs during the festival week.

While some events are ticketed, there are also opportunities for folks to tune in at no charge. On Feb. 1, at 8 p.m., FFFF will host “Local Restaurants and the Pandemic,” a free talk moderated by Sara Brito of the Colorado-born restaurant rating system, Good Food 100 Restaurant List.

Speakers of the discussion —  that will shine a light on the hardships faced by area spots and the solutions needed to combat those new challenges — include Caroline Glover of Annette, Dana Query of the Big Red F Restaurant Group, Jimmy Seidel of Snarf’s Sandwiches and Bobby Stuckey of Frasca Food and Wine.

“In difficult times, food is always a flash point,” Joun said. “Food and community during the pandemic have become a strong narrative that is hard to fathom. The pandemic effects are threatening the existence of independent restaurants, vital gathering places for everyone. Food insecurity has increased greatly. Yet, there are so many people who are more avidly cooking and communicating about food than ever. Strange times.”

FFFF has partnered with area restaurants like Blackbelly Market, Pastificio Boulder, Mateo, La Merise French Bistro and others to provide one-of-a-kind meals for viewers to feast on.

“Some of my favorite restaurants and food businesses are involved with the festival,” Joun said. “The festival food offerings make me think of a food court where every stall has really good food.”

The smoked wild boar hash dinner that The Post Brewing Co. was created to pair with the 1820’s Oregon territory setting of the 2019 film “First Cow” for the upcoming Flatirons Food Film Festival. (Post Brewing Co./ Courtesy photo)

Keeping with the festival’s creativity, featured meals will be built with the themes of specific films in mind.

“When it comes to cuisine, you can’t beat French, pasta and Mexican,” Joun said. “I am impressed at the smoked wild boar hash dinner that The Post Brewing Co. created to pair with the 1820’s Oregon territory setting of ‘First Cow.’ Now, that’s a toughie.”

Boulder County Farmers Market created a snack box available for pickup in Boulder, Longmont, Lafayette and Denver. The $29.99 box includes Monroe Organic Farm popcorn, On Tap Kitchen’s honey mustard pretzels, Bolder Chip’s blue corn tortilla chips made from Native American corn and Best One Yet’s chocolate chip cookies.

A still from the film “First Cow” that will be shown online as part of the Flatirons Food Film Festival. (A24/ Courtesy photo)

Taking classic movie theater concessions up a notch, The Inventing Room Dessert Shop — a Denver-based business that crafts Willy Wonka-esque treats has curated a box of delicacies specifically for this year’s virtual festival.

“We love bringing back childhood nostalgia,” said chef Ian Kleinman of The Inventing Room Dessert Shop. “We start with snacks and candies we love and try to reinvent them from there, creating a unique twist to old classics.”

From gourmet “Milk Dud” marshmallows to refreshing and flavorful “Sour Patch Kid Pate De Fruit,” the options are sure to leave a lasting impression.

“I like to begin with flavors that people like and/or have had before and use new techniques and ingredients to make a food experience different and fun,” Kleinman said. “I am particularly proud of the interactive ‘Perfect Bite Popcorn’ as it is something we have never seen before. It includes popcorn with a salted curry caramel in the squeeze bottle and candied pumpkin seeds. Since the salted curry popcorn is in a squeeze bottle, people can decide how much caramel they want to drizzle.”

The Movie Gobblebox, created by The Inventing Room Dessert Shop in Denver, features root beer cotton candy and other unique treats. The curated box is a great addition to the Flatirons Food Film Festival’s culinary offerings. (The Inventing Room/ Courtesy photo)

Prior to the pandemic, The Inventing Room — at 4433 W. 29th Ave.,  #101, Denver — welcomed tours into the colorful and fragrant factory where even flavored wallpaper could be sampled.

In warmer months, the sweet business delivered candy via drones. While winter weather prevents this delivery method, customers can still purchase candy orders that will be shipped within 48 to 72 hours.

“It really is fun for us to get to flex our creative muscles,” said Stacey Kleinman, wife of chef Ian Kleinman and co-owner of The Inventing Room. “Since both of us have professional pasts in kitchens, we are appreciative of how creative we can be with both our dessert shop and, more so, with our full-catering operation. The pandemic actually forced us both to come up with new ideas that would work safely for everyone — both for us and our guests, of course. It has been a challenge, but it has also showed us what we can create as a team. We have actually really been enjoying cultivating new ideas for our virtual events as well, something that never crossed our minds before.”

The Inventing Room’s Movie Gobblebox — just one of the unique culinary items up for grabs — retails for $25 with discount code “FFFF.”

Also new this year is an art show featuring pieces by 12 Colorado-based creatives that were made in response to the FFFF films  “A Taste of Sky,” “First Cow,” “Gather,” “Food Fighter” and “Sacred Cow.” The exhibition, that will run through Feb. 21,  is available to view online and in-person at R Gallery, 2027 Broadway, Boulder.

Individual tickets are $12 per film. A variety of film passes and virtual ticket packs range from $22 to $90.

“I hope that viewers will feel refreshed and that their time with us reminds them of a good meal — satisfying, tasty and worth savoring,” Joun said.