In a world where Netflix makes for an easy and inexpensive “date night,” a husband-and-wife team from Islip is looking to offer a better alternative to the couch.
Alicia Randolph-Lucchesi is a chef who works in the realm of plant-based fare. She owns Pandora’s Lunchbox, a company that specializes in meal delivery and catering.
Her husband, Rob Lucchesi, is a tattoo artist, an amateur filmmaker, and a self-proclaimed “huge movie fanatic.”
They’ve been teaming up with Cyrus Kabir of Cyrus: Chai & Coffee Company of Bay Shore to host Food Flix Cinema, a once-a-month event that features cult film favorites with thematic, plant-based food pairings.
“We wanted to come up with a new concept for people to go out on dates… so this is basically dinner and a movie,” Lucchesi said.
The June film selection was Stephen Spielberg’s 1975 classic, Jaws.
When I arrived 15 minutes prior to showtime, Randolph-Lucchesi was busy setting tables with plastic TV dinner-style trays and laminated menus. Her specially-crafted selections for this event included Quint’s Irish Potato Salad and Hooper’s “Fish” Tacos.
“The food comes out throughout the film,” Randolph-Lucchesi explained as she placed bowls of herbed popcorn on each table.
Four or five small meals accompany key scenes in the film.
Eyeing the menu, I guessed that the potato salad would come out after Quint captures everyone’s attention by scratching a chalkboard. (I was right.)
Guests began trickling in at 6 p.m. and mingled with one another as Kabir prepared to close the shop for the private event.
This was not Ivette Figueroa’s first Food Flix Cinema event. She is a Cyrus regular who learned about the events by seeing a flyer. All of the event’s promotional materials include the tagline, “Re-imagining the TV Dinner Experience.”
“I’ve seen Jaws probably a million times,” Figueroa said. “I come for the food.”
West Islip couple Melissa Sgambati and Dan Trupia haven’t missed one of the four cinema night so far at the coffee house.
“Every one of the events is a little better than the last,”Sgambati said. “[the concept] is so original. I like that.”
“Alicia and Rob are just the greatest human beings,” Trupia added.
Before the film began, Kabir provided a preface for the evening, just to give a few first-timers an idea of what to expect.
“Enjoy the experience,” he said. “This is not a quiz. There will be no short paragraphs about the protagonist as a tragic hero or anything like that.”
Randolf-Lucchesi encouraged attendees to relax and pretend as if they were their own living room.
“Get up. Walk around. Use social media if you want. We encourage that!”
As the opening credits rolled, attendees chatted about the film, the food, and of course, that famously-improvised scene: “I think we need a bigger boat.”
One woman let out a surprised squeal when Hooper found a corpse, which provoked some good-natured laughter.
Food Flix Cinema night is the last Saturday of each month and cost $35 per person. The next film selection is Friday the 13th to be shown on Saturday, July 30. Because space is limited, Lucchesi encourages everyone to purchase their tickets early. The events usually sell out well in advance.
Tickets can be purchased at Cyrus: Chai & Coffee Company, located at 1 Railroad Plaza. Or click here to order online.
And come hungry, as Randolf-Lucchesi offers generous portions — and seconds.
Check out their Facebook page for more information.
Top Photo: Alicia Randolph-Lucchesi and Rob Lucchesi at work in the kitchen during the June 25 Food Flix night at Cyrus. (Photos by Mary Donnelly)