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January 20, 2012

Sundance 2012's Food Scene

By Alexandra Wolfe | Festivals


From filmmaker dinners at the Montage Deer Valley’s Supper Suite featuring Bravo’s Top Chef alum Marcel Vigneron and the hotel’s own executive chef Shawn Armstrong to the St. Regis’ Film Festival Wine Dinners at Jean-Georges’ J&G Grill to Hyatt Escala’s new $3.5 million restaurant, this year the festival is almost as much about the food as the film. Outside the theater, look out for Frank Langella, Liv Tyler, James Marsden and Peter Saarsgard at the Robot & Frank cocktail hors d’oeuvres reception on Saturday, catered by the Montage’s new Yama Sushi. Then hang out with Olympic medalist Shannon Bahrke at J&G before show time. We talked to two-star Michelin Chef Christopher Lee of Eden Miami and the Huntington
Social who will be cooking three different dinners for the Supper Club at the
Axe Hair Media Lounge, and Celeste Fierro and Liran Mezan of the One Group (STK) about the restaurant scene at this year’s festival.

Departures.com: What special events are you working on for Sundance and how did you come up with the menu?

Chris Lee: We are doing dinners for the cast of The Comedy as well as the Playboy Imaginative Filmmakers Spotlight Award. The menus were developed with seasonal ingredients and recipes that highlight my cooking style: combining seasonality with creativity, and inspired by abstract art.

Celeste Fierro: This year we're excited to have our new Corporate Chef Liran Mezan to spearhead the menu. STK comes to Sundance hosting private dinners for Black
Rock, For a Good Time Call
and Lay the Favorite, among others.

Why is Sundance an important market for you, and how did you decide to do the pop-up?

Lee: As a chef, Sundance is full of creative, artistic people who I hope will appreciate that aspect of my food. I am happy to have the opportunity to cook for them. As a business owner, Sundance is one of the most prestigious film festivals that attracts people from all parts of the world. This kind of exposure is priceless.

What are you most looking forward to this year at Sundance? How does the atmosphere fit with your restaurant or image?

Lee: I am looking forward to doing the Showcase dinner on Sunday, it is always nice to be a part of a highly coveted event. There have been a lot of great chefs before me who have cooked for this, and I am happy to add my name to that roster. The atmosphere fits with my concepts very well. From what I have seen, the vibe of Sundance is very much glitz and glamour, but in an approachable way. You have movie stars and the red carpet, but everyone is running around in jeans and snow boots.

Fierro: The One Group, Gansevoort Hotel Group and Direct TV partnered to create a great space on Main Street, the center of the festival, hosting private dinners and a late night lounge. David Mast and Dwell magazine assisted in creating a space that was a combination of both TOG and GHG in a ski lodge setting.

Who would you most like to meet this year at Sundance?

Lee: I am still waiting to meet Mr. Redford. And since we are doing a dinner that is sponsored by Playboy, it would be awesome to meet Hef.

Liran Mezan: J.J. Abrams.

How would you describe the restaurant scene during the festival? How has it changed over the years?

Lee: The restaurant scene is going to be off the hook, full of people who know good food. It is really great that the festival flies in chefs to help celebrate these great accomplishments.

Mezan: There's a greater energy this year. You can already feel it on Main Street. Perhaps it’s an uptick in the economy, or the great films and filmmakers show. Whatever it is, we're excited.

Does the film lineup have any bearing on what you will create?

Lee: Well, I definitely took into consideration who will be in the dining room and tried to design a menu that will amuse, inspire, and impress. I didn’t have a particular film in mind, but I did think about the vibe of Sundance being relaxed and comfortable, and cold, so I went with braised short rib because it is a nice hearty winter dish.

Photo © Brandon Perlman