The idea for the Traverse City Film Festival was first conceived in Amical, a downtown favorite, so it’s only natural that after 12 years of just great movies, food has become a prominent aspect of this film-filled week. The movie venues are curated with the traditional Snowcaps and Milk Duds, as well as handpicked munchies from local businesses, like Grocer’s Daughter’s chocolates in the shape of the State Theatre’s marquee and Greenetown Foods apple chips. TCFF highlights local vendors all of its major parties during the week and has even started a new Food on Film series featuring samples from locals chefs. Food truly brings people together at the festival.
As the food donation intern for TCFF, a big part of my summer has been spent calling local restaurants and businesses asking for food donations to one of the several parties the festival hosts during the week. I was happily surprised by all of the places that were able to say yes, even during one of their most in-the-weeds weeks of the year. Having these vendors involved in the festival was a great experience for guests and vendors alike. Patrons were able to have some of their favorite culinary creations, like wood fired pizzas from The Filling Station Microbrewery or punnily named morsels from the infamous Morsels Espresso + Edibles, but they were also able to try items from recently opened places, such as baklava from Nada’s Gourmet Deli. It was a great networking event for these donors to connect with one another in a fun atmosphere. We worked hard to make these connections; one of my favorite stands was a pairing of generously donated freshly made pasta from Grand Traverse Culinary Oils with housemade marinara and alfredo sauces courtesy of Sorellina.
With the amount of people that this festival brings in, it’s wonderful that so many local and eco-friendly initiatives are taking place. This was the first year (and hopefully not the last) that TCFF has paired with Taste the Local Difference to become a certified local event. This means that across all of the foods associated with the festival –from venues to parties to green rooms — at least 20% of the cost will be from locally grown or produced items. According to our current data, we have far exceeded this bar with the parties averaging around 50% “local”. This is huge! Our donors used a wide range of local ingredients to create their tasty offerings. We realize that using only local ingredients is not possible for everyone, but this standard encourages local restaurants and food businesses to see what they can do differently to use more local ingredients in their products.
Since the film festival brings in so many extra bodies to our town, it is even more vital that we strive to be more conscious of our waste. Another one of the great initiatives put forth by TCFF is that we partner with Bay Area Recycling for Charities to remain wastefree. All of the plates, cutlery, and napkins are compostable at our parties and theaters. We are very thankful for all volunteers and donors that make these specific aspects, as well as the entire festival possible.
The Traverse City Film Festival has evolved considerably in the last twelve years. It has gone from a festival that was planned in two months to something that requires year-round planning and thousands of volunteers. Each year there is something new and different that makes this festival even better. As a Traverse City native, I am excited to see how it will continue to change in the coming years. TCFF is known for its just great movies, but I hope that soon it will also be renowned for its just great food.
Emma Beauchamp is the new NW Michigan Local Food Coordinator for Taste the Local Difference. She is a recent graduate of the University of Michigan who was fortunate to end up again in her hometown of Traverse City. You can reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org