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Presented by the JCC Association in partnership with Chef Michael Solomonov, five-time James Beard Foundation award winning chef of Zahav in Philadelphia.
Bringing Israel Home, a 16-week full-flavored online culinary series to experience the ingredients, spices, places, and people that make up Israeli cuisine.
With travel to Israel curtailed for the moment, this series will bridge the gap by bringing Israel’s extraordinarily diverse and vibrant culinary landscape into people’s homes via weekly interviews with food and cultural figures in Israel, cooking both new and signature recipes live in his home kitchen, and through live conversation with viewers.
The first part of each episode is pre-recorded interviews with guests in Israel who bring the ultimate melting pot of Israeli cuisine to life by sharing their family stories and food traditions with Chef Solomonov and all of you. The second part of each episode comes to you live from Solomonov’s home kitchen where he will prepare dishes based on the theme of the episode, and take questions live from viewers. Recipes will be available to viewers in advance through Jewishfoodsociety.org.
The series begins with Mike leading a conversation about the fundamental idea that cultural diversity is the beating heart of Israeli cuisine. To do so Mike speaks with Ha’aretz food journalist Ronit Vered and Via Sabra founder and Israel tour guide Avihai Tsabari (he is a regular contributor to the show). They explore when immigration waves to Israel happened, how they occurred, and how this interplays with Palestinian cuisine. Recipes: ● Chicken Thighs with Kumquats and Green Olives ● Carrot Rice Pilaf
Mike speaks with students who chose to embark on a Gap Year in Israel in the midst of the pandemic. Young Judaea Year Course is the largest gap year program in Israel and has continued to run a meaningful and fun experience since the outbreak of COVID-19. Mike will explore the students’ experience in the program in these unique times, where they participate in significant volunteer efforts and eat copious amounts of couscous. Recipes: ● Israeli Couscous ● Israeli Chopped Salad ● Soft-boiled Eggs, Labneh, Pickles and Aleppo Pepper
Mike interviews chef Osama Dalal, whose family has lived in Akko for more than 300 years, to talk about pluralism and how Jews and Arabs live side-by-side. An ambassador of authenticity, Osama demonstrates how Ottoman influences flavor the food of Akko, more than elsewhere in Israel. Mike also speaks with Avihai Tsabari, who sheds further light on the history of the historic port city. Recipes: ● Fish Schnitzel with Kataifi Crust, Preserved Lemons and Capers ● Konafi
Mike interviews Ravid Kahalani, co-founder and lead singer of the genre-defying band, Yemen Blues. The duo discuss the global sensation’s groundbreaking music that pulls influence from a number of places within Israeli culture, including of course, Yemenite culture. Avihai Tsabari is also back to talk about Yemenite influence in Israel (he’s the son of a Yemenite father and Tunisian mother). Recipes: ● Yemenite Soup with Chicken ● Schug ● Hilbeh
Breads and pastries – both traditional and modern, sweet and savory – are an integral part of Israeli life. Bakeries are a daily stop for many Israelis. To talk about the impact of the bakery on Israeli life, Mike interviews Uri Scheft, founder of the great Lehamim Bakery. We learn how Uri created an iconic bakery, brand, and babka. Recipes: ● Hand-stretched Phyllo Borekas with Spinach and Kashkaval
Israeli breakfast is a culture unto itself. Stemming from the early days on the kibbutz where it was important to have a good breakfast before heading out to a long day of work, Israeli breakfasts have become a much-anticipated part of any traveler’s day. Mike breaks down the phenomenon with chef and food journalist Ruthie Russo. Recipes: ● Shakshuka ● Iced Almond Milk with Orange ● Fresh Challah
Mike speaks with Naama Shefi, founder of Jewish Food Society, an organization that works to preserve, celebrate, and revitalize Jewish cuisine. Mike also speaks with Tami Shem Tov, whose father shares a name with the national dish of Israel, Sabich. The dish is made of fried eggplant, hard boiled egg, tahini, chopped salad, pickles and amba, which first came onto the scene in modern pita sandwich-form by an Iraqi immigrant selling his sabich to bus drivers at a kiosk at the end of a bus line in the 1980s. Recipes: ● Sabich ● T’bit
This show is dedicated to Mike’s brother, David, tragically killed while on-duty on Yom Kippur three days before his military service was set to conclude. Mike talks to soldiers from David’s brigade, and recounts the story of his special relationship with David. Live in his kitchen, Mike recreates the meal he made for his mom on his trip back to Israel when he reconnected with David a few weeks prior to his passing, as well as an iconic Sephardic dish from Mike’s Savta that he and David enjoyed. Recipes: ● Pastel ● Lamb Roast