Lights, Camera, Mastication: Edible Cinema In Soho

Do you like films? Do you like food? Do you like watching films while eating food? You do? Well keep reading, because Edible Cinema is on its way to a Soho House cinema near you.
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Do you like films? Do you like food? Do you like watching films while eating food? You do? Well keep reading, because Edible Cinema is on its way to a Soho House cinema near you.

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Zoe Fletcher, an event manager at Soho House Group, is the creative mind behind Edible Cinema, the quirkiest new way to enjoy great movies and great munch.

“I wanted to give people a film experience where you’re served experimental food that highlights what you’re seeing on screen,” she says.

The concept is simple: a film is chosen, the experimental food designer caters a menu that is meticulously matched to said film, cocktails are made, the film is screened, the audience relaxes, the audiences eats delicious food and enjoys a great movie.  It’s a multi-sensory experience that is designed to enhance and compliment what’s happening on screen.

Edible Cinema was an organic process of thoughts, when Zoe met up with friend and Tea Time Productions party planner, Polly Betton, to discuss ideas.

“One thing that came out of the brainstorm was me telling her how much I love Secret Cinema and immersive theatre experiences,” says Zoe. “I also love experimental food and how that baffles your senses in a good way. I wanted to marry the two things.”

In May 2012, at the Electric Cinema in Portobello, Edible Cinema held their first event and screened ‘Pan’s Labyrinth’, Guillermo del Toro’s eerie fantasy. They received excellent reviews that helped them refine their package and continue with their cinema concept that’s never been seen before.

Since then, the creative team have turned ‘Spirited Away’, ‘Beetlejuice’ and ‘When Harry Met Sally’ into edible cinematic experiences, with tickets starting from £23.

“We’ve had rounds of applause after the films have finished,” says Zoe. “People have come up to me afterwards and they’ve gone nuts for it online.”

Their popularity is irrefutably gaining momentum. Their Twitter following is growing, Disney approached them to host a private premiere for the new ‘Wreck It Ralph’ and the Soho Houses in America want a piece of the Edible pie. So what is it about this new style of cinema that’s getting people so excited?

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“I think Heston Blumenthal has a lot to answer for,” jokes Zoe. “He’s made experimental food really exciting and people have had their horizons broadened.”

As well as the awesome food, Zoe says it’s all about being part of something.

“Its an experience you have in immersive theatre where you’re all in it together. Everyone is reaching for the same food at the same moment, and experiencing the same sensations.”

Tom Bovington, a 22-year old actor, attended the screening of ‘When Harry Met Sally’ at the Electric Cinema in December last year.  “Edible Cinema was a delight!” he said. “I had a comfortable sofa seat, delicious snacks, strong cocktails and a fantastic film!.” Would he go back for another Edible Cinema experience?

“Definitely. It’s amazing how they make the food work so well with the movie.”

As well as planning and managing, Zoe is also dedicated to the screenings themselves, as she uses a light box to display numbers that correlate with the food in front of the audience, indicating what they should eat and when. With a mixologist from Bombay Sapphire and an experimental food designer, the Edible team make each screening a labour of love.

The event’s emphasis is on delicious food, but textures plays an intricate part in the experience to an almost neuroscience scale.

“We’ll identify a really strong moment in the film and decide we need something to represent, say, a salty sea breeze, a heart being ripped out or a crispy newt.”

For ‘Pan’s Labyrinth’, they made a hay-flavoured yoghurt, granola and fig concoction to enhance the moment when the character Ofelia has bugs crawling over her. The crispy newt was chocolate covered in seaweed. Multi-sensory is certainly one of way of looking at it.

Zoe says there’s no science to matching the right film to the right food; often the team collectively decide on the movie, watch it together and then pick up moments that would benefit from food enhancement. ‘Some Like It Hot’ will be their next screening, subtly coinciding alongside Valentine’s Day but mostly fulfilling Zoe’s desire to turn her favourite film into an edible experience.

“We’ll be doing things like ‘the fuzzy end of the lollipop’ and ‘jello on springs’ when they refer to Marilyn Monroe’s walk,” she says.

With the likes of Secret Cinema and Future Cinema bringing a new dimension to a regular trip to the movies, it’s an ever-changing landscape. And thanks to the creators of Edible Cinema, your average large popcorn and fizzy drink will simply no longer suffice.