It may be surprising to learn that a major culinary revolution is taking place in Israel – a country so frequently associated with political drama. In just thirty years, Israel has gone from having no fine food to call its own to a cuisine that is world-renowned.
Roger went to Israel for the first time in 2010; it wasn’t even on his top 10 list before then, he wanted to go to Paris. After an initial trip, in 2013 the crew filmed at over 100 locations all over Israel. Like many, hummus and falafel were all that came to mind about Israeli Cuisine. It became clear that most people he met in the United States didn't know much about Israelis either, and were surprised at what Roger discovered.
He found a vibrant restaurant scene in Tel Aviv that rivals New York, San Francisco, London and, yes, Paris. And, more and more of Jerusalem’s restaurants, once thought stuffy, are must-experience destinations. Israel has 350 boutique wineries that are gaining international acclaim. It produces distinctive cheeses that you’d find in France or Italy. Most important Roger discovered the people of Israel and the remarkable food traditions they produce. The food traditions are incredible diverse – Moroccan, Persian, Lebanese, French, Italian, and Russian – Jewish, Arab, Palestinian, Christian, and Druze, kosher and non-kosher, secular and religious. Home cooks are preserving their grandmothers’ recipes and dynamic chefs are updating them.
The clincher to make the film was most people didn't have a clue what was going on in the culinary scene of Israel. "People laughed when I told them Israel has one of the most dynamic food cultures in the world," Roger said. He makes films to surprise and delight. Here was the perfect subject with an enormous potential audience.
The people behind the film
The film's chef/guide is Michael Solomonov, a James Beard Award winning chef and co-owner of acclaimed Zahav in Philadelphia. Mike was born in Israel and grew up in Pittsburgh. He’s lived in Israel and travels there frequently. The filmmakers follow Mike into hot restaurants and home kitchens, wineries and cheese makers, he eats street food and visits markets. All over the country, he discusses traditions, ingredients, the origins, and the future of Israeli Cuisine. (More about Mike)
Roger has also won a James Beard award for The Restaurateur, a portrait of Danny Meyer. His other work has been honored with an Emmy, a Peabody, and two Academy Award nominations. His film Alexander Calder, an American Masters special, was called “an American masterpiece” by Charlie Rose. The Wall Street Journal said Richard Rodgers: The Sweetest Sounds “was perhaps the best film ever produced in the American Masters series.” (More about Roger)
In Search of Israeli Cuisine is being distributed worldwide by Menemsha Films. For inquires about setting up a theatrical or community screening, or for broadcast please contact Neil Friedman, president and founder.