Roger Sherman on His Documentary ‘The Search for Israeli Cuisine,’ and the Trip that Revealed a Food Revolution

Quietly, Israel has become one of the world’s most diverse and agriculturally advanced culinary regions

The filmmaker, along with chef Mike Solomonov, traveled to Israel four years ago and found centuries of untold food history. 

“I wanted to go to Paris,” says Roger Sherman. “I didn’t really think about Israel as a destination. But my friend Joan Nathan, who writes Jewish American cookbooks, called and said ‘I’m leading a food press tour and somebody cancelled, you should come.’”
The documentarian — the same filmmaker who profiled Danny Meyer in The Restaurateur — went to Israel for the first time four years ago.
“I was knocked out by what I saw, what I ate, and how gorgeous the country is. Israel has a food scene that I had no clue about, a restaurant scene that rivals New York or San Francisco; it has mountains and desert, and a beach that runs the length of the country.
“Israelis don’t know from locavore; that’s a foreign word. What they know is that everything is two hours away. They have every vegetable, because every 20 kilometers is a different microclimate. Everything was caught yesterday. 
“When I came back, people laughed when I said Israeli cuisine was this big thing — 350 international wines, cheeses you thought you could only get in Italy or France. I thought, ‘This would be a great film.’”
What came out of the trip, eventually, was Sherman’s documentary, The Search for Israeli Cuisine. The film is in the final stretch of its Kickstarter campaign, which is raising funds for editing in anticipation of its premiere on PBS.

Sherman’s guide to Israel was Philadelphia chef Mike Solomomov, chef at Zahav and half of the Cook & Solo restaurateur team. Sherman and Solomonov began meeting the country’s chefs and food producers, many of whom operate family businesses that have existed for hundreds of years.