About this project
Thank You! Our deepest gratitude to all who joined the Israeli Cuisine team and made it possible for The Search For Israeli Cuisine to exceed goal! If you would like to pledge and are arriving on this page after our Kickstarter campaign has ended, please visit www.IsraeliCuisineFilm.com to make a donation and for updates and information on the film.
The Search for Israeli Cuisine is a Staff Pick and a Featured Film on Kickstarter!
The Search for Israeli Cuisine is in the News!
"Israeli Cuisine reflects humanity at its best. People need to know that regardless of what they see on TV, regardless of their political stance, the best way to relate to Israel is through its food and culture."
-Michael Solomonov, American-Israeli chef of the acclaimed Zahav in Philadelphia
Hummus and falafel were all I knew of Israeli Cuisine before I visited Israel for the first time four years ago. I discovered a vibrant restaurant scene in Tel Aviv that rivals New York City's, a street food rich with history, and astonishing vegetables. I tasted wines from some of the 350 boutique wineries gaining international acclaim. I savored distinctive local cheeses. What is remarkable is how food traditions as diverse as Moroccan, Persian, and Lebanese, French, Italian, and Russian can be found on the tables of the most cutting-edge restaurants. The Search for Israeli Cuisine will feature Jews, Arabs, Palestinians, Christians, and Druze –– kosher and non-kosher, secular and religious.
When I returned home and told friends about Israel's dynamic food scene, I expected their disbelief. But I'm a documentary filmmaker and I know a good story when I see one. This is a great story! I knew that exploring the new Israeli Cuisine would make a powerful film, offering viewers a very different way to experience Israel; telling the story of the country through its foodways and its many cultures.
About The Film
It may be surprising to learn that a major culinary revolution is taking place in a country so frequently associated with political turmoil. In just thirty years, Israel has gone from having no fine food to call its own, to a cuisine that's world-class.
The Search for Israeli Cuisine is a two-hour intimate exploration of a misunderstood country. As a nation of immigrants, Israel has, for now, preserved its unique culinary traditions. Viewers will come to know passionate chefs, home cooks, farmers, vintners, and so many others who believe that hospitality resolves differences: "You can't be in conflict with me when eating at my table."
We filmed at over 100 locations all over Israel. We follow our chef/guide, Michael Solomonov into the home kitchen of journalist Ruthie Rousso. Together, they prepare her grandmother's Turkish eggplant and tradition is a hot topic. "Like chicken soup," she says laughing, "alter the spice and you're in trouble. It's easier to mix it up and experiment at restaurants than at home."
Chef Meir Adoni, one of the most famous in Israel, loves to play with culinary traditions. He welcomes Mike into his packed restaurant, Mizlala, in Tel Aviv, where he serves his take on kubane, authentic Yemeni bread made for Shabbat and cooked for twelve hours. Normally, it's crispy, close to burnt on the outside, chewy inside. In his hands kubane becomes rich and buttery, almost a brioche. I'd be happy eating it all day long.
Our cameras follow master cheese maker, Shay Seltzer, into his 2,000 year-old cave, where he shows off his aged artisanal cheeses. Caves as old as the second temple can be expected from an ancient culture. What's largely unknown is that Israel is a world leader in high-tech agricultural innovation. Vegetables are the heart of the new Israeli Cuisine. Cherry tomatoes were invented in Israel. As were seedless watermelons, and even seedless lemons.
On a farm in the Negev desert, separated from Egypt only by a barbed wire fence, we interview farmer Anon Season. His cherry tomatoes grow for two years on vines 36 feet long. Eggplants and peppers are some of the other non-GMO produce grown this way.
"Roger Sherman is one of the best filmmakers I know. His films are fresh, insightful and entertaining, not to mention award winning. The Search for Israeli Cuisine is going to be a very important film, enlightening the world about Israel's many food cultures and traditions." - Ken Burns, filmmaker
Roger Sherman: I am a founder of Florentine Films, a producer, director, cinematographer, still photographer, and author. My documentaries have been honored with an Emmy, a Peabody, and two Academy Award nominations. Wrote Kat Kinsman on CNN's Eatocracy of The Restaurateur, "Beg, borrow as needed, but do yourself a favor and see Roger Sherman's doc." The film won the 2013 James Beard Award for Best Documentary. About Medal of Honor, The New York Post said, "There won't be anything more worth your while on TV." Charlie Rose called Alexander Calder, "An extraordinary American masterpiece." And, The Wall Street Journal said Richard Rodgers: The Sweetest Sounds was "Perhaps the best film ever produced in the American Masters PBS series." Both Calder and Richard Rodgers were PBS American Masters specials. My book, Ready, Steady, Shoot: A Pro's Guide to Smartphone Video was published in December 2014.
Michael Solomonov, chef/guide of the film is a 2011 James Beard Award winner for "Best Chef, Mid-Atlantic," and was just named a semi-finalist for the "Best Chef," James Beard Award 2015. Born in Israel, raised in Pittsburgh, he is the co-owner and chef at Zahav, Philadelphia's renowned modern Israeli restaurant. He's also co-owner of Abe Fisher, serving his unique take on Ashkenazi food, Dizengoff, a hummusiya, Percy Street Barbecue, and Federal Donuts. Recently, Mike was named Best Chef in America by Eater, and has been featured in Food & Wine, The New York Times, Condé Nast Traveler, Travel + Leisure, Esquire, and Bon Appetite.
Why I Need Your Help
I have been working on The Search for Israeli Cuisine for four years and remain committed as ever to completing this unexpected, informative, and entertaining film. The filming is complete; we have over 120 hours of footage. It's all been transcribed and each shot has been meticulously logged. I've written scenes that are ready to be edited. Now!
I am extremely grateful for the support already received. These funds enabled us to research and shoot the film, and prepare for editing and finishing. Support from foundations and individuals includes Laurie Tisch, Joe Steinberg, Nathan Hevrony, Richard Vague, The Blanche and Irving Laurie Foundation, The Israel Ministry of Tourism, and ElAl Airlines. However, I can not finish the film without additional funds. Like so many other independent filmmakers, I have turned to the Kickstarter community to ask for your help.
Our Kickstarter goal of $72,000 will help fund the following:
- Assistant Editor
- Editing room and editing equipment
- Archival and television rights
- An original music soundtrack
Once funded, with your help, the two-hour documentary will air nationally on PBS. But, for that to happen, the Kickstarter goal must be met.
What is Kickstarter?
Kickstarter is a crowdfunding platform that enables creative projects like The Search for Israeli Cuisine to find the financial support they need from individual people. It allows you to be part of the team by pledging money towards the cause. In return, we have reward gifts for you, based on various donation levels. You can see the rewards on the right side of the page.
Kickstarter operates with an all-or-nothing model, so this campaign must reach its stated goal of $72,000 or we do not receive ANY of the money pledged. You will only be charged your pledge amount when we reach our entire funding goal. Can we exceed this goal? Absolutely! Kickstarter will allow us to raise as much money as we can by the campaign's ending date, Sunday, April 5th.
Is My Pledge Tax-Deductible?
Pledges of $100 or more can be tax-deductible. The Search for Israeli Cuisine's 501(c)3 fiscal sponsor is The Jewish Journal of Los Angeles.
Other Ways You Can Help
I hope you will join in making a successful campaign a reality by spreading the word about The Search for Israeli Cuisine's Kickstarter. Please help expand the film's reach by introducing people to this project. Please tell your friends, co-workers, family, and anyone you think might be interested. The wider our reach, the more successful we can be.
Please visit our Facebook page and like, post, and share comments. Follow us on Twitter for the latest news and updates. I hope you will join the #IsraeliCuisine (that's the hashtag to use) team and help us get the word out!
Thank you in advance for making The Search for Israeli Cuisine Kickstarter campaign a success. I am very excited to edit the film and be able to show it to you and the world. I know you'll be more than pleased and proud to be a part of the worldwide team that makes our film a reality.
"I have sadly never visited Israel, but everywhere I go, people keep telling me that the food movement there is advancing at lightning speed, and in ambitious ways. So when Roger told me that his latest film project would focus on the cuisine of Israel, I was incredibly excited. For all I have to learn about Israeli cuisine, I do know quite a bit about Roger's talents as a filmmaker. As the subject of his portrait The Restaurateur, Roger managed to make his camera invisible, allowing our story to unfold and to be told fully and candidly. He didn't hype the drama; he just let us tell it like it was. The proof is in all the accolades the film has received including the James Beard Award for Best Documentary. Please join me in supporting this really worthwhile project." -Danny Meyer, restaurateur
Risks and challenges
I am committed to making a powerful and impactful film that will surprise, inform and entertain. Raising funds for feature length documentaries are complicated endeavors. I am confident we will make our Kickstarter goal. With a successful campaign, I plan to begin editing this spring and finish by fall. I will keep supporters informed about any changes to those dates.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
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