Vision Films and Jay Silverman Productions are presenting their film “Off the Menu” at Santa Barbara International Film Festival this week. The charming romantic comedy about finding love where you least expect was directed by Jay Silverman and shot on location in New Mexico. This enticing film with its 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” the unforgettable 2001 film which focused on tempting French chocolate made by Juliet Binoche that becomes irresistible to Johnny Depp. “Off the Menu” could easily be considered the New Mexico Pepper sequel to the Binoche & Depp delicious film.

Dania Ramirez & Santino Fontana Sharing the joy of the Chili

Actors Dania Ramirez and Santino Fontana create their own delightful New Mexico recipe for love, leaving the audience smiling. If it’s a happily ever ending you are seeking look no further. The cast includes Dania Ramirez (Once Upon A Time, Devious Maids), Santino Fontana (Frozen, Crazy Ex-Girlfriend), Makenzie Moss (Steve Jobs, CSI: Crime Scene Investigation), Maria Conchita Alonso (The Running Man, Predator 2)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 find 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.
Off The Menu made its World Premiere at the Santa Barbara International Film Festival on Thursday, February 1, with an encore screening on Saturday, February 3. It will also be featured at the 2018 Santa Fe Film Festival on February 8, 2018. Off The Menu film will be available February 6 on Digital for an SRP $4.99 – $9.99 Rent or Buy across all platforms and to Buy on DVD.

Dania Ramirez share her chili garden with Santino Fontana

“When my team and I began developing Off The Menu, I was inspired by Michael Pollan’s novel The Omnivore’s Dilemma to show how huge a role 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 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”.
I found it so interesting that the incredable food preparation and film set-ups were done by Silverman’s eldest daughter Chef Clara, a talented chef who is a graduate of Johnson Wales Culinary School, and the viewing of these dishes in theirfilm could easily be cause for a quick trip to Doc’s Restaurant in Taos for an authentic New Mexican chili dinner. Give yourself a wonderful foodie escape and see this film as soon as possible. Ole’
Bonnie Carroll – publisher and editor-in-chief of and contributor on travel/food/lifestyle/entertainment in numerous national and international publications. She can be contacted at