Filmmaker Richard Sherman didn’t set out to make a documentary about Israeli cuisine with Philadelphia chef Michael Solomonov as his tour guide. And Solomonov, co-owner of area hot spots such as Federal Donuts, Abe Fischer and the Israeli food-focused Zahav, wasn’t looking to be a star for Sherman, whose lens had previously captured the likes of restaurateur Danny Meyer and early rockers Little Richard and Jerry Lee Lewis.
Yet here they are, premiering the gritty-yet-graceful In Search of Israeli Cuisine as the opening flick for the Philadelphia Jewish Film Festival, beginning March 28 and running through May 23 at the Gershman Y.
“It’s my journey, as I had developed the idea of the film for two years before asking Mike to be my tour guide,” says Sherman. “Meeting him, tasting his food and hearing Mike’s knowledge regarding ancient traditions — new ones as well — that made the film go. His warmth, self-deprecating humor and way with street vendors and high-end restaurateurs was exactly what I needed.”
Rather than just taste test their way through Israel’s street foods, white-tablecloth restaurants and farms, they delved into the culture, histories and strife in the country. “I didn’t want to make a puff piece … so we deal with all the conflicts,” says Sherman.