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Interview: TIFF’s Food on Film Host Annabelle Waugh

March 8, 2013 | By More

Annabelle Waugh - Food on Film Host, Photo Credit: Ryan Brook - TC Media

Food on Film, the TIFF Bell Lightbox subscription series returns, offering food-lovers an interactive platform to connect their culinary love with great cinema. The second season of Food on Film series brings together chefs, food experts and film lovers to enjoy the best of culinary cinema and conversation. Each month series host Annabelle Waugh, Food Director of Canadian Living magazine, will welcome a celebrated guest from the culinary world to discuss the intersections of cinema, culture and gastronomy. Food on Film screenings take place Wednesdays at 6:30 p.m. at the TIFF Bell Lightbox.

We recently spoke with Annabelle Waugh, Food Director of Canadian Living, and TIFF’s Food on Film host.

What is the importance of matching the speaker with the film?

Guests were paired with films to promote engaging and informative conversations, suitable to each expert’s culinary specialty. And all of our guests are very versatile — their expertise can apply to multiple films within the series. Hopefully, the audience will look back at past discussions, see how they apply to the film they’re watching at the moment, and how the themes relate back to some of our previous talking points.

What do you want people to take away from, or learn, from the movies?

Every film has something unique to offer, just like every guest has something unique to offer. It’s fun to take a well-loved topic like food and look at it through a different lens than you’re used to. It’s so interesting to think about how a food stylist sees food. Or a food and travel writer. Or a scientist. Or an activist. There’s always so much to learn and the films are a great catalyst for conversation.

Do you find it important to educate people on food? What can we do to educate the proper perceptions of food?

I’m not sure there is a proper perception of food. Food represents a million different things. It’s a conduit for love, friendship and closeness; it’s the source of political debate; it’s an expression of culture and religion; it’s an economic powerhouse; it can make the difference between life and death; or it can even be about something as basic as the pleasurable, yet simple, act of eating something delicious. There’s nothing wrong with any of those perceptions. This series is about exploring as many of them as we can.

What made you want to get into the food industry?

At first, it was about escaping my mother’s horrendous cooking. (Sorry, Mum!) Learning how to cook seemed like the most straightforward way to go about it. But I ended up falling in love. And now, I gladly cook for her instead.

What was your first experience in the industry?

In high school, I did a co-op placement at The Bonnie Stern School of Cooking. I looked at Bonnie and what she was doing for food — making it approachable and fun and easy — and thought, “I want to do THAT!”

Do you find the industry rewarding?

It can be. It can also be heartbreaking. It’s a labour of love. People often have romantic ideas about what it’s like to work in food and want to quit their jobs to open a bakery or become a chef. But if you aren’t really meant for it, the food industry will chew you up and spit you out before you even know what hit you. It can be a very hard life. But if you’re meant for it, then there’s not much else you can imagine yourself doing.

Who are some of your mentors? What have you learned from them?

Bonnie Stern was my first mentor. She showed me what it takes to be a good and patient teacher and she opened my eyes to a life that could be spent in food, but outside of restaurants. Elizabeth Baird, the former food editor of Canadian Living, is another mentor. She taught me to always put the reader first, and the importance of recipe integrity. Andrew Chase, the former food editor of Homemakers magazine and associate food editor ofCanadian Living, taught me more about cooking and taste than anyone. I’ve yet to meet anyone with a palate as good as his.

March 13, 2013 - The Trip (2010), Photo Credit: TIFF Film Reference Library

Upcoming guests and films include:

Chef Jason Bangerter will be carrying on the Luma tradition of a food & wine pairing for the TIFF Food on Film series. Chef Bangerter will be creating his own culinary interpretations inspired by the films in the series, and offering these creations for purchase exclusively at Luma.

Food on Film. Wednesdays (see dates above) at 6:30 p.m. at the TIFF Bell Lightbox. Follow TIFF Food on Film on Facebook and Twitter (#FoodOnFilm).

Single tickets are now available. $35 for adults, and $28 for students and seniors. To purchase, visit

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Category: Food, Media, People, Places

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