Sundance Opening Night: An Artist at the Table

By Kerri Johnson – Daily Dish

Not to brag, but last night I dined at one of the most interesting tables at Sundance. Okay, I’m totally going to brag because Dishing kicked off the opening night of the 2016 Sundance Film Festival at the exclusive event, An Artist at the Table. The event included the premier of the Festival’s opening film, Norman Lear: Just Another Version of You, followed by cocktails, conversation and dinner with, you guessed it, an artist at the table (well actually, many artists at many tables). The night was devoted to laughter and food – two of my favorite things.

To begin the night the Director of the Sundance Institute, John Cooper, had us recite the Sundance vows, which included, “I promise to have fun and be adventurous” and then Robert Redford (swoon) took the stage to present the directors of the film, acclaimed documentarians Heidi Ewing and Rachel Grady. The film chronicles how one of the most successful producers in television history brought provocative subjects through the unlikely prism of laughter. The best part? Norman is 93 and was in the audience watching the film for the very first time. Afterward he took to the stage for a Q&A and concluded by saying, “I wish there was a giant bed and we could all get in bed together so you could understand how I’m feeling right now.”

Now bring on the food! We were driven to the DeJoria Center at High Star Ranch in Kamas to really kick off the opening night at the Festival. Cocktails and smoked meat and charcuterie from the newly opened State Road Tavern greeted us as upon arriving.

After a run-in with Chelsea Handler in the bathroom, passing by Nick Jonas and listening to Norman Lear capture the room again with laughter, it was time to meet the artist at my table. To my left was Adrian Grenier, who we all best know as Vince on HBO’s Entourage, but to my delight he is just as interested in food as he is in acting. He co-founded SHFT Mobile Kitchen Classroom, a high school program that empowers the next generation of Food Citizens – individuals who understand that their food choices have a meaningful impact and are empowered to advocate for change. Grenier is passionate about bringing lessons on cooking, gardening and sustainable food to students all around New York City.

“Getting kids involved with food is the most powerful way to help them connect with the environment, their health, and their communities.” – Adrian Grenier

While cameras were not encouraged at the table, I assure you, the food was delightful. Dinner started with a light salad with pomegranate seeds and crème fraîche, the main entree was Utah Red Trout and lamb and dessert was a collection of tiny editable art. So far, I’d say I’m living up to the Sundance mission of having fun adventures. On to Day 2!

Sundance Opening Night: An Artist at the Table

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