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Vanessa McMahon

Vanessa is a novel writer, screenwriter, rep and a film producer. She shares her discoveries and film surprises. :-)



Interview with Director Yuri and Scriptwriter Marcela Garces for @ NVFF

Interview with Director Yuri and Scriptwriter Marcela Garces for @ NVFF

Interview with Director Yuri and Scriptwriter Marcela Garces @ NVFFScriptwriter Marcela Garces

Interview with Director Yuri and Scriptwriter Marcela Garces @ NVFFDirector Yuri Morejon 


Spanish director Yuri Morejon and scriptwriter Marcela Garces screened their 54 minute film 'The Txoko Experience. The Secret Culinary Space of the Basques' (2017) at the 8th annual Napa Valley Film Festival. In homage to the film, a Txoko food demonstration at the Studio by Feast it Forward, hosts of the NVFF.


In an interview with Yuri and Marcela about their film, here is what they had to say:


Can you tell us about the meaning of Txoko? 

YURI & MARCELA: In Basque, “txoko” means “corner,” in the sense of a secret space or private nook. Txokos (sociedades gastronómicas in Spanish and gastronomic societies in English) are private, communal spaces outside of their homes for preparing and consuming meals. Unique to Basque culture, they are rooted in changing industrial societies of the 19th century. Since their inception, txokos have served not only to introduce men to the art of cooking, but also to maintain the most traditional dishes in Basque culture. Txokos are considered the mothers of Basque Michelin-starred restaurants and many of their dishes are based on or re-interpreted from traditional Basque dishes that are still enjoyed today in txokos.


What separates Basque cuisine from other culinary capitals in the world?

YURI & MARCELA: The Basque Country is a very small area in Northern Spain (half the size of the state of Connecticut). It takes about an hour to drive from one side to another, and in that space where a bit more than 2 million people live, there are mountains, the sea, farms, and vineyards. The landscape provides a wide array of fresh products that talented, experienced chefs utilize to make the Basque Country a place with award-winning cuisine, specifically, one of the places in the world with the most Michelin stars per inhabitant. Additionally, seven restaurants in the Basque Country are in the top 100 in the world. Four of these are featured in The Txoko Experience. Our film makes the local concept of txokos to the global arena by revealing the excellence of Basque gastronomy through personal stories from Michelin Star chefs Josean Alija (Nerua Guggenheim Bilbao), Bittor Arguinzoniz (Asador Etxebarri), Aitor Arregi (Restaurante Elkano), and Elena Arzak (Restaurante Arzak), all of whom have helped to put Basque cuisine on the world map.


Was it a difficult filming process or was it rather seamless?

YURI & MARCELA: As the director, and especially due to being from the Basque Country originally, for me (Yuri Morejón), it was challenging to attempt to communicate the essence and uniqueness of Basque cuisine to an audience who is unfamiliar with it and geographically removed from the area, specifically, the U.S. public to whom the film is directed. Directing a small, talented, and motivated crew allowed us to visit places with our cameras that are normally difficult to film, such as Michelin-starred restaurant kitchens and various txokos, known for being the private temples of Basque gastronomy.  


Do you think the increasing trend and popularity with haute cuisine will continue to grow or slow down?

YURI & MARCELA: People are interested in unique, quality culinary experiences. Whether these are found in haute cuisine or in street food, the important thing is that people gain more knowledge about cuisine, which is a challenge for chefs to continue to innovate and offer their best products and recipes for their clients.


How did you start your career in film and TV? 

YURI & MARCELA: I (Yuri Morejón) have had my own communications consulting company since 2007, and I’ve always thought that stories, especially audiovisual ones, have a powerful and influential impact on audiences. In working on political campaigns with candidates and managing public relations for elite athletes and coaches, I gained tools to enter into the cinematographic world with my first feature documentary film about Basque gastronomy.  


You recently attended NVFF. How was that experience?

YURI & MARCELA: We had two successful screenings of The Txoko Experience. The Secret Culinary Space of the Basques and Q&A sessions and also participated in a live Culinary Demonstration inspired by our film. It was a great event, and very well attended. The people in Napa enjoyed the film as they also love sharing food and wine in community, which is the essence of our documentary.


How have people responded to the film?

YURI & MARCELA: The two words that people repeat the most after viewing the film are “wow” and “thank you” –the first, because they are amazed by the images of the places in documentary, and the second, because people really feel like they have learned something about a place that is otherwise difficult for them to see or learn about.

While the film was screened on Iberia Airlines international flights around the world during the first part of 2018, we received messages from people across the globe about how they enjoyed the film and wanted to visit the Basque Country after viewing it. As a Basque, that’s the best gift people can give me as a response to the film.


Can you tell us about your next project?

YURI & MARCELA: Our next project will be related to gastronomy, and it seeks to surprise and delight people anew.


Interview with Director Yuri and Scriptwriter Marcela Garces @ NVFF


Interview by Vanessa McMahon



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