Movie Night With a Twist

TOAST meets the founder of Edible Cinemas, London’s hottest viewing experience

Forget sweet or salted – how about pine-smoked popcorn served in a handkerchief? TOAST meets the founder of Edible Cinemas, London’s hottest viewing experience

What did you eat the last time you went to the cinema? Nachos heaped with a substance of alleged bovine origins, but could have easily passed for the contents of a radioactive waste barrel, perhaps? A box of popcorn covered in more salt than the Salar de Uyuni? A bag of Brazil nuts the size of erm, Brazil?

If you’re a discerning movie goer and shun your local multiplex, you might have plumped for an artisan ice cream and wine served in an actual glass instead of a paper cup. Still, chances are, your 20 quid ticket for that Sundance award-winning flick didn’t include ox tongue en croute with duck liver parfait and pea shoots. 

People, you’re missing out. If films and food are your bag, then Edible Cinema (EC) is a vintage Hermes. The multi-sensory experience whipping “been there, done that” Londoners into a frenzy, EC supplies audiences with a tray of eight numbered mystery boxes containing an imaginatively designed menu of bite-sized dishes tailored to specific moments in the film. It’s a synergistic pairing that’s proved incredibly successful – all events to date have sold out.

“We’re different to anything else out there,” says Polly Betton, the brains behind the immersive events. “The whole economy is much more experience-based now. It’s less about owning stuff and more being the first to hear about or do something. Our audience is incredibly varied. We have people who are into food or into film or are a fan of a particular film, so tickets always go quickly.”


Betton had been keen to fuse celluloid classics with gastronomy for some time, eventually joining forces with Soho House for a screening of Pan’s Labryinth at the Electric Cinema, in Notting Hill. It sold out in a matter of hours thanks to a playful and carefully considered menu: “There’s a scene in a pine forest at the beginning of the film, where Ophelia’s mum is coughing into a blue handkerchief. We served pine-smoked popcorn in a blue handkerchief. The crunching sound of people chewing the popcorn sounded like pine needles underfoot.”

Other successful screenings include Perfume (guests chowed down on mini Cumberland sausages during the orgy scene – ahem); Some Like it Hot (rose-tinted and champagne-flavoured Turkish delight for the alcohol-soaked kiss between Sugar and Junior); Spinal Tap and Romeo + Juliet.

But not all movies are suitable for the EC treatment, says Betton. “Our least well-received screening was When Harry Met Sally. It’s a great film, but not a lot happens. It’s hard to find something remarkable enough to build a menu around, so I try to avoid romcoms now.”


Betton’s team has hosted corporate and private events across the capital, as well as a number of Disney UK premieres at the Science Museum. Despite the demand, Edible Cinema isn’t her day job. She’s also the director of Teatime, an events production company that works with brands, such as Bombay Sapphire, Aero, Senseo and more.

Edible Cinema is very much a labour of love. All of us have other jobs – my assistant is a fine artist. We do it because we enjoy the challenge and want to put together events that are different, and I think this is reflected in the experience. If I can create something interesting then people are getting their money’s worth.”

DIY Edible Cinema:

Looking to entertain the cinephiles and gourmands in your life? Here are Polly’s top tips… 

  • Choose a film that you like. You’re going to have to watch it a few times to come up with your menu. I used to love Beetlejuice, but it doesn’t stand up to eight viewings.
  • Don't forget the popcorn: There are so many variations on popcorn and it’s something you can make that doesn’t require a great deal of effort. You can go for interesting colours or fruit powders, and YouTube has some fantastic tutorials on how to coat popcorn properly.
  • In addition to popcorn, you’ll need to serve something more substantial and also a great cocktail.
  • Think laterally about your themes. People tend to go for really obvious pairings, like burgers with Pulp Fiction. If you’re going to do this, take an unusual angle – put some heavily smoked ingredients in to suggest gun smoke or use a tangy sauce that’s bloody tasting. Use your imagination

Edible Cinema design bespoke events at the Electric cinema in London. For other unique experiences, take a look at their profile in our Little Black Book to see what tasty menus and themes they can create for your next event. A typical Edible Cinema screening coats around £38 and includes eight canapes (three drink-based) and a welcome drink. 

Take a look at TOAST'S Pick of the best Posh Popcorn on theEdit.


Posted in Spotlight

by Alix O'Neill
on on 26 September 2016

  cinema, movie night

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