More than 1,000 moviegoers packed San Francisco’s Castro Theatre on July 23 for a screening of the Roger Sherman documentary The Search for Israeli Cuisine sponsored by Amy and Morton Friedkin as part of the annual San Francisco Jewish Film Festival.

Amy Friedkin, president of ISRAEL21c, addressed the sellout crowd that came to an after-movie culinary event at Aaxte with the filmmaker and the film’s host, Israeli-American chef Michael Solomonov, co-sponsored by Moses and Susan Libitzky and ISRAEL21c. Susan Libitzky is an ISRAEL21c board member.

Chef Michael Solomonov snaps a photo with ISRAEL21c board member Susan Libitzky, a sponsor of the Film and Feast program at Aaxte. Photo by Anita Bowen Photography
Chef Michael Solomonov snaps a photo with ISRAEL21c board member Susan Libitzky, a sponsor of the Film and Feast program at Aaxte. Photo by Anita Bowen Photography

San Francisco chefs Ryan Pollnow (Aaxte), Nick Balla and Cortney Burns (Bar Tartine) and Mourad Lahlou (Mourad and Aziza) paid homage to Solomonov’s award-winning Israeli-influenced cuisine with interpretations of dishes such as shakshuka, lamb kabobs, chicken liver, and latkes with smoked salmon.

Chef Michael Solomonov (center, plaid shirt) and filmmaker Roger Sherman (center, white shirt) with chefs Ryan Pollnow, Nick Balla, Cortney Burns and Mourad Lahlou. Photo by Anita Bowen Photography
Chef Michael Solomonov (center, plaid shirt) and filmmaker Roger Sherman (center, white shirt) with chefs Ryan Pollnow, Nick Balla, Cortney Burns and Mourad Lahlou. Photo by Anita Bowen Photography

“Everyone had a great time and was inspired to learn about Israel through the story of its food,” says Nathan Miller, ISRAEL21c’s social media director. “The event gave people another perspective on what makes Israel a unique and special place — not just the food but the people behind the food.”

One of the dishes served at the after-movie culinary event based on the recipes of Michael Solomonov. Photo by Anita Bowen Photography
One of the dishes served at the after-movie culinary event based on the recipes of Michael Solomonov. Photo by Anita Bowen Photography

This theme tied in perfectly with the film’s compelling message and with ISRAEL21c’s mission to expand the conversation about contemporary Israel and its diverse culture, he and Friedkin added.

Solomonov mingled with attendees and autographed copies of his cookbook, Zahav: A World of Israeli Cooking, which won the James Beard Book of the Year and Best International Cookbook for 2016.

Miller believes the film-and-feast pairing could be replicated successfully in other cities. “Food is one of the best ways to capture people’s imagination,” he says.

Both Solomonov  and Sherman have been featured by ISRAEL21c.