Food and farming around North Carolina is the focus of this selection of films curated by the Media Resources Center. Begin in Hillsborough at a local cooking school, head over to Durham for a spotlight on food trucks, up to Asheville for a bit on bread, and finish down east in Kinston for tales from a chef’s life.

APPETIZER:  Cook School
CookSchoolThis short follows no-nonsense culinary instructor Nancy Gould as she teaches inmates at the Orange County Correctional Facility about the intricacies of fine food preparation and service. As part of their grade, the 18 men currently enrolled in the class are executing a full-service dinner for 60 volunteers who help with the Cook School. In her course, Gould strives to give each student the employment skills he needs to succeed in the food-service industry.  More importantly though, she wants to make sure each student is “able to leave this place a better man than when he first come in here.” Includes commentary from local chef and Cook School volunteer Nancie McDermott whose own culinary work is quite impressive – I’d especially recommend her Southern Cakes and Southern Pies cookbooks! Fun fact: I grew up in Hillsborough less than a quarter of a mile from the Orange County Correctional Facility and never knew this great program was taking place so close to my house! (KA)

Food on Four Wheels – from Full Frame’s School of Doc
foodonfourwheelsSome folks consider Durham NC to be the South’s tastiest town with its ever-growing array of award winning restaurants, breweries, pubs, bakeries and food trucks.  Yep, food trucks, and lots of them.  Here, a team of eight Durham High School students have produced, directed, edited, and shot an interesting short film on two of Durham’s famous food trucks (Porchetta and Only Burger) and a bit of the culture surrounding the foodies on four wheels scene.  Watch through to the end of the credits to get a peak behind the scenes of this project too. Of Note: This short was the final project of the class of 2013’s School of Doc summer filmmaking camp run by the Full Frame Documentary Film festival.  Learn more on the School of Doc and  see their 2015 project “Seeds Community Garden.” (WFM)

ENTRÉE:  A Chef’s Life
Now in its third season on PBS, this Peabody award winning documentary/cooking show hybrid continues to follow the culinary creations of farm to fork North Carolina chef Vivian Howard.  Howard and her husband Ben Knight moved from NYC AChefsLifeto just outside Kinston NC in 2005 to be closer to Howard’s parents and opened a restaurant the following year. A few years later, Howard teamed up with documentary filmmaker Cynthia Hill (also a NC native and UNC alumna) to create a show that would embrace southern food culture and farming.  And, A Chef’s Life does just that – promoting southern food traditions while underscoring the importance of utilizing local ingredients sourced from farms and gardens typically within NC and close by their Kinston home base.  Each season offers a baker’s dozen or more 30-minute episodes that highlight a key ingredient (sweet corn, grits, oysters, rice, muscadine grapes, peanuts, collards, buttermilk, and moonshine in the first season alone).  Howard and Hill have masterfully crafted a winning combination of documentary narrative and cooking show in this character driven series – where the Chef, the farmers, and the ingredients themselves each take a turn in the spotlight and the audience benefits from the stories and recipes shared.  (WFM)

DESSERT:  David Bauer of Farm and Sparrow Bakery, Asheville, NCDavidBauerofFarmandSparrowBakery
This micro-doc produced by the folks at the culinary professionals magazine StarChef visits David Bauer of Farm and Sparrow Bakery in Asheville NC. Bauer does a great job of explaining his baking ethic and the importance of sourcing his ingredients locally.  We also see part of the milling/grinding process and hear about other factors involved in the baking process. (WFM)