Story by Rod Charles
Vacay.ca Deputy Editor
WOLFVILLE, NOVA SCOTIA — The seventh edition of Devour! The Food Film Fest kicks off today in Nova Scotia. Celebrated chefs including Jacques Pépin, Ali Hassan, Emma Cardarelli, Michael Smith and Mark Greenaway will be joining the fun along with legendary Canadian actor Gordon Pinsent playing a role as guest curator.
Another friendly face making an appearance at the world’s largest film festival devoted to all things culinary will be celebrated Gastronaut, artist and seven time Guinness World Record holder Bob Blumer. He is the creator and host of the television series Surreal Gourmet and Glutton for Punishment, as well as producer and host of World’s Weirdest Restaurants. Blumer has written five acclaimed cookbooks including Pizza on the Grill, (just released in it’s second edition).
Every year Devour! showcases engaging cinema paired with extraordinary food and wine culture. This year the theme is “A Celebration of Canadian Cinema and Cuisine” and will feature 99 events with 72 films in 34 screenings (including the world premiere of David Eng’s Grand Cru and the Canadian premiere of Peter Stein’s Jacques Pépin – The Art of Craft) 23 industry workshops, three celebrity chef dinners and 22 tasting tours. The festival has become a major draw for tourists and film industry personnel – in fact the festival attracted more than 10,000 people last year and is showing no signs of slowing down.
Blumer says everyone should spend at least a few days of their life eating, drinking and watching films and he believes one of the best places in the world to do that is in Nova Scotia during Devour! He took time to chat with Vacay.ca about his love for Wolfville and the festival.
Vacay.ca: Let’s start with an easy question. Why do you love Devour! so much? How did you get involved with this festival?
Bob Blumer: I was invited in their second year to come and host it. I was between a bunch of things so I was able to squeeze it in for one night in my schedule. I got there and I instantly saw what a beautiful town Wolfville was and how much fun the festival was. Devour! is a combination of a film festival and then they do all these events. Every night there is a dinner connected to a gala and the dinner is a dinner produced by multiple chefs that is inspired by the film. There are seminars and different types of interactive things like cooking demonstrations.
It’s kind of a 360 food / film experience and it looked like it was going to be so much fun. So I ended up hosting the first opening night and then basically having to leave the next morning just as all the fun was starting. It almost killed me to leave!
Vacay.ca: So it’s safe to say you had a good time the first year.
Blumer: Absolutely! So I convinced (Executive Director Michael Howell and Managing Director Lia Rinaldo) to let me come back the next year and I’ve been going back every year since and it just sort of evolved into the position where I’m sort of the in-house guy for interviews, whatever they need. It’s always fun. And then I do all sorts of fun things.
Vacay.ca: Like cooking great food, I would assume.
Blumer: More than that. I was Bill Pullman’s unofficial officer of security when he was there a couple years ago. I’m just sort of a utility player for the festival and it’s a role that’s allowed me to go the duration of the festival, take in some of the films, enjoy some of the culinary experiences and also do some cooking and food demos. That’s really a long winded way of saying it’s a really cool festival and I’ve attached myself to their ankle like a pit bull so that I can stay involved.
Vacay.ca: It’s no secret you love Wolfville. I love it too. It’s a beautiful place, a true Canadian gem that I was able to visit last year with Go Media. Why do you love the region so much and what are your thoughts about Nova Scotia?
Blumer: Sure, first of all – and I really do mean this sincerely – in my world, people who are fortunate enough to be in my position to be a television host get invited to go to many places. We’ll go anywhere once. But to keep going back to a place time and time again, you have to really love it. I really do love the region, Wolfville, the entire Annapolis Valley.
Vacay.ca: I agree, there aren’t many negative things you can say about Wolfville and the surrounding region. It’s a masterstroke for Devour! to have their festival there, other event planners might have selected a larger urban area.
Blumer: Well, you know the truth is I only go back there because I have such a great time. I do plenty of things that I do once but life is short and what better thing is there than to spend four or five days watching films, eating, drinking, hanging out. I even borrow a bicycle sometimes and go on a ride. And this great camaraderie as well, there are always a lot of chefs hanging out at Devour! Fest. And people just have a really good time when they go.
Vacay.ca: What are your plans for the future?
Blumer: The usual. I’m working on some new ideas for a TV show. But my plan right now is to be in Wolfville Nova Scotia, and that’s where you can come and find me.
Vacay.ca: It was a pleasure Bob! Thanks for your time and all the best.
Blumer: Thank you!
MORE ABOUT DEVOUR! THE FOOD FILM FEST
Travel Information: https://devourfest.com/attend
Purchase Tickets: https://devourfest.com/archives/2017-program
Dates: October 25-29
Nova Scotia Tourism: https://www.tourismns.ca