Ever since Quynh “Q” Trinh, founder of We Suki Suki and food stall market the Global Grub Collective in East Atlanta Village, watched actor Gene Wilder take a bite of the flower-shaped teacup in the original “Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory,” she has wanted to eat movies.
“I was like, ‘Is that a wafer? Or is that wax?’” she says of the teacup. In her mind, the yellow flower teacup Wilder bit into tasted lemony with a hint of vanilla.
Following that moment in her childhood, Trinh says she’s found herself wanting to eat through many other movies centered around food — and she felt she wasn’t the only one. After years of planning and searching for the right chef partner, Trinh has now brought a dinner and movie experience to East Atlanta Village through Eatavision, where people eat the food seen on screen while watching the film.
Every month, Trinh and chef Melissa Allen Foltz (Ma’s Hot Takes) design a multi-course tasting menu based on a different movie, recreating some of the dishes or snacks from the film. They debut the menu at a handful of movie screenings at the East Atlanta Village Farmers Market location on Stokeswood Avenue. Each movie showtime there is capped at 100 people, with the film projected onto a 20-foot screen outside.
When Eatavision launched in May this year, Trinh’s childhood hunch appeared to prove right. Tickets for the inaugural dinner and a movie event, “Ratatouille,” sold out. She quickly added two more showtimes. The menu highlighted different moments throughout the film, from the literal recreation of Remy’s ratatouille, to an original dessert inspired by food critic Anton Ego’s request for Remy to “surprise me.”
The meal is designed to integrate as seamlessly as possible with the viewing experience. Instead of receiving the courses throughout the movie, people attending pick up a pizza box containing the entire meal, with food placed into individual takeout dishes. A printed guide attached to the underside of the box lid lists the menu, along with the timestamp for each scene that aligns with a specific course. During the movie, Trinh rings a dinner bell before each scene to remind viewers to prepare for the next dish.
The menu comes together with the help of Foltz, who has the well-rounded culinary knowledge and eagerness that Trinh was looking for in a chef-partner for Eatavision. Foltz has experience in fine dining, pastry and catering work, and was the corporate executive chef for seven years at Victory Brands — the restaurant group behind Victory Sandwich Bar, LLoyd’s, and Little Trouble. Incorporating local produce, Trinh and Foltz aim to deliver the exact dish or flavors from each movie, riffing on the food where there’s ambiguity in a film.
Trinh chooses films that resonate with her, but also appeal to larger audiences. “Ratatouille” was the first film because it planted the seed for Eatavision seven years ago. In August, “Willie Wonka & the Chocolate Factory” will be an homage to her parents and to her family’s immigrant experience.
“I was Charlie, and America was Wonka factory,” Trinh says, speaking of the opportunity her family saw in the U.S. after immigrating from Vietnam when she was just six years old. “‘Willy Wonka’ is the most important film Eatavision will ever do, because it changed my life.”
Allowing people a glimpse into her life through the movies she chooses, Trinh considers Eatavision her most personal food project to date. It’s a creative challenge for Trinh — a way to “continue to be amused and amazed” — and a chance to honor those movies.
As Eatavision screens more movies, Trinh sees the concept evolving in several ways. She’s working on a formal takeout option for people to watch the month’s chosen movie from home, featuring to-go boxes with built-in compartments. Drink pairings from Atlanta bartenders as well as holding some movie screenings, particularly independent films, indoors at smaller venues are also in the works. Trinh is in talks with the owner of Thai and Sushi restaurant in the Village to host a few of Eatavision’s smaller dinner theater events.
“I’ve known them since 2002, and we’ve been great peers as well as Village neighbors. It’s an easy transition,” says Trinh. “The space only holds about 25 vaccinated patrons. In order to make it feasible, the to-go option is a must. We plan on two screenings: one at 7 p.m. and the other at 9 p.m. on Saturdays.”
Blockbuster movies with higher demand for seats will be held outdoors (weather permitting) or in larger indoor spaces.
Down the line, Trinh wants to collaborate with other Atlanta chefs, cooks, and restaurants for films with specialty or culturally specific dishes, adapting the menu, venue, and the experience to fit the film. She hopes to begin offering a la carte dishes as an alternative to the tasting menu, too, and creating new menus based off movies suggested by Eatavision patrons.
“I love feedback. The best one, so far, is “Coming To America” and doing the McDowell’s menu,” Trinh says of the movie suggestions, thus far. “It would be fun to do this movie with Apache Cafe.”
The July menu for Eatavision explores the movie “Chef”. While also the film shown in June, the July screenings of “Chef” will take place at breweries throughout Atlanta and offer drink pairings with the five-course tasting menu.
For Trinh, Eatavision is another way to connect with people through food and movies, while capturing the craft of cooking in a fun and respectful manner. “I want to have people dream again in a very endearing way, because food and films do that for me.”