Santa Barbara Film Festival: Why we eat weird things, 108-course feast, and more

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Clockwise from top left: Film stills from “The Wandering Chef,” “Man in the Field,” “Born in a Ballroom,” and “The Delicacy.” Photo courtesy of the Santa Barbara International Film Festival.

With more than 200 films screening at eight theaters in 11 days, the Santa Barbara International Film Festival (SBIFF) can be overwhelming.

Luckily, the Independent’s food and wine writer Matt Kettmann narrowed down his favorite cuisine-centric films at the festival.

“The Delicacy”

A sea urchin. Courtesy of the Santa Barbara International Film Festival

One of the strangest and most sought-after food in the world is the sea urchin. From the director of the “Somm” series, Jason Wise heads beneath the sea in this documentary about sea urchin divers off the coast of Santa Barbara.

“He wanted to do a nature film about humans, and why we eat weird things, and he does a really good job of that,” says Kettmann.

"The Delicacy" screens Friday, Jan 24 at Metro Theatre 2 at 8:20 pm; and Saturday, Jan 25 at Metro Theatre 3 at 2:40 pm.

“The Wandering Chef”

Jiho Im in Korea. Courtesy of the Santa Barbara International Film Festival

Chef Jiho Im travels the Korean peninsula on foot for wild ingredients like a corns, weeds, and moss. Along the way, he cooks meals and develops deep relationships with the elders he meets. 

“A lot of them thought these wild foods were poisonous, and he’s showing them that they’re not only tasty, but healthy,” says Kettmann.

When one of Im’s closest friends dies, he faces the challenge of his lifetime: cooking a 108-course feast in her honor.




Kathryn Barnes