Off the Menu Rivals 'Chocolat' in Romantic Ingredients

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Tinseltown Tidbits: “Off the Menu” Rivals ‘Chocolat’ in Romantic Ingredients

by Bonnie Carroll

Vision Films and Jay Silverman Productions are presenting a charming romantic comedy about finding love where you lease expect: Off The Menu. Directed by Jay Silverman and shot on location in New Mexico, this enticing film with it’s delectable cuisine is a real celebration of the relationship between culture and food and their power to bring people together.

After an enjoyable evening watching this film I saw an instant connection between “Off the Menu” and the award winning “Chocolat”, a 2001 film in which chocolate made by Juliet Binoche captivates Johnny Depp. “Off the Menu” could be considered the New Mexico Pepper sequel to the totally delicious Binoche & Depp film. Actors Dania Ramirez and Santino Fontana create their own delightful New Mexico recipe for love, leaving the viewer completely uplifted. Who doesn’t love a happy ending?

The cast includes Dania Ramirez (Once Upon A Time, Devious Maids), Santino Fontana (Frozen, Crazy Ex-Girlfriend), Makenzie Moss (Steve Jobs), Maria Conchita Alonso (The Running Man, Predator2), Kristen Dalton (The Departed, Jack Reacher), Andrew Carter ( 2 Broke Girls, New Girl), and Jen Lilley (A Dash of Love, Days of Our Lives). “We are very proud that the CAST was over 50% female and Hispanic, which made for a more inclusive experience and authentic story that audiences will be sure to fall in love with”, said producer Bethany Cerrona.

The story starts when the unlikely heir to a Mexican fast food franchise, Joel (Santino Fontana) reluctantly accepts a mission to find new ideas for their menu in New Mexico, and he finds himself in a small, dusty town where foodies travel from all over to salivate over the culinary treats of a local, authentic, and feisty female chef, Javiera (Dania Ramirez). Opposites attract in this sweet and romantic story about food, family, and love.

Director Jay Silverman says “When my team and I began developing Off The Menu, I was inspired by Michael Pollan’s novel The Omnivore’s Deilema to show how huge a role that food plays in all our lives”, says director and executive producer Jay Silverman. “Joel’s family owns one of America’s largest fast-food chains, while our Chef Javiera has a farm-to-table approach to her melt-in-your-mouth-good cooking. This cultural detail was central to our story, and enabled our characters romantic journey to begin”. Interesting to note that the food preparation and film set-ups were done by Silverman’s eldest daughter Clara Silverman, a talented chef who is a graduate of Johnson & Wales Culinary School. The dishes in this film could send me screaming to Doc’s Restaurant in Taos for authentic New Mexican food.

Lise Romanoff, Managing Director/CEO Vision Films says, “The tagline: ‘The secret ingredient is love’, says it all! Dania Ramirez not only charms her co-star Santino Fontana, the audience is captivated as well”.