Skip To Content
JEWISH. INDEPENDENT. NONPROFIT.

Support the Forward

Funded by readers like you DonateSubscribe
Food

Behind the Scenes of ‘The Search for Israeli Cuisine’

It was an overcast Monday afternoon in Tel Aviv’s beleaguered Hatikva neighborhood, and Chef Michael Solomonov was gamely accepting dish after dish at Bosi, a small-family owned restaurant, surrounded by cameras and sound men. Facing skewers of meat, a mounting stack of fresh flatbreads and a dozen salads including beet, several eggplant dishes, coleslaws and hummus, he rattled off descriptions for the camera. Using the salads to illustrate the Israeli melting pot, he attempted to name the origin of each one — one is probably Yemenite, another looks Palestinian — and turned around to feed a bite of kebab to his cameraman, documentary filmmaker Roger Sherman, who was towering over him.

Solomonov is partnered with Sherman, a two-time Academy Award nominee, to film an upcoming PBS documentary on Israeli food, “The Search for Israeli Cuisine.” They have traveled the country up and down, from Metullah to Mitzpeh Ramon, in search of what Solomonov termed “grassroots” food experiences. Along the way, they visited vintners, farmers, cheesemakers. Solomonov also stopped in the homes of talented cooks and attended a poyke dinner after dark in the desert. The list of sites was pulled together by Solomonov, Sherman. producer Karen Shakerdge, who is half Israeli, and Avichai Tsabari, a local tour guide and sommelier. All in all, the trip was the result of one and a half years’ worth of planning and fundraising to date, to be packaged into four half-hour episodes scheduled to air next year.

“Everybody’s passion is what made this a special project, that meeting of the minds,” said Shakerdge.

After all that eating day in and day out, it was amazing that each experience was unique, commented Solomonov while standing before the spread of food large enough to feed a medium-sized camera crew. Yet after eating all day, no one was hungry.

The restaurant was nearly empty, and the bakery next door also had no customers at that hour. Passersby, out for a walk between the intermittent downpours, stopped to stare at the camera crew.

“What are they filming?” asked a boy to no one in particular. “They’ve come to Hatikva, but I just want to leave,” commented one middle-aged neighborhood resident.

The team had finished shooting more quickly than they planned, so they headed into the Hatikva Market. Hatikva is the lesser known of Tel Aviv’s two produce markets, attracting far fewer tourists than the popular Carmel Market. As darkness fell, the camera crew shot panoramas of the market as well as close-ups of produce such as miniature eggplants, and then jetted off to a well-known neighborhood joint selling sabich – fried eggplant in pita – in the Tel Aviv suburb of Givatayim.

Filming has been great, but eating so many meals a day for the camera is exhausting, commented Solomonov, who griped that he’s been gaining weight in the process. Soon, it’ll be back to Philly and to the daily routine.

Engage

  • Events

    Haart to Haart

    Virtual

    Dec 7, 2022

    7 pm ET · 

    A conversation with Julia Haart and her son Shlomo, stars of Netflix's 'My Unorthodox Life,' about the new season and much more.

Republish This Story

Please read before republishing

We’re happy to make this story available to republish for free, unless it originated with JTA, Haaretz or another publication (as indicated on the article) and as long as you follow our guidelines. You must credit the Forward, retain our pixel and preserve our canonical link in Google search.  See our full guidelines for more information, and this guide for detail about canonical URLs.

To republish, copy the HTML by clicking on the yellow button to the right; it includes our tracking pixel, all paragraph styles and hyperlinks, the author byline and credit to the Forward. It does not include images; to avoid copyright violations, you must add them manually, following our guidelines. Please email us at [email protected], subject line “republish,” with any questions or to let us know what stories you’re picking up.

We don't support Internet Explorer

Please use Chrome, Safari, Firefox, or Edge to view this site.