Chef Michael Solomonov interviews people about their traditional foods in the 2017 documentary  “In Search of Israeli Cuisine.”  (Photo/Menemsha Films)
Chef Michael Solomonov interviews people about their traditional foods in the 2017 documentary “In Search of Israeli Cuisine.” (Photo/Menemsha Films)

East Bay Jewish film fest serves up food films and chef talks to sate your cravings

OK, so the vaccine is now making its way through our ranks, but we still have to protect ourselves from the virus for who knows how long. You’re all Zoomed out, and tired of cooking.

But on four Tuesday afternoons in January and February, a free online program may stoke your culinary fire until restaurants open again.

“Film, Food & Fantastic: The Foodie Film Fest” — presented by the East Bay International Jewish Film Festival — will offer cooking demonstrations by four American-Israeli chefs, each paired with a screening of a different food-focused film.

Given the propensities of these celebrity chefs and cookbook authors for sharing personal stories along with their recipes and insider tips, the program of cooking demos, culinary history and gastronomical films makes for an appetizing mix.

It is provided as a service to the community thanks to festival donors.

Each of the four chef demos will start at 5 p.m. The film pairing will be available to stream starting at 8 a.m. that same day, and will be available through the next Sunday at 10 p.m., two days before the next chef demo event and next film in the series. Here’s what’s on the menu:

January 19. Einat Admony, the chef of the Middle Eastern restaurant Balaboosta and the falafel chain Taim, will show how to prepare Moroccan spiced fish, Yemenite salad with fenugreek, yogurt dressing and ja’ala (a roasted nut and seed mix). The film is the 75-minute “Ottolenghi and the Cakes of Versailles,” a sumptuous 2020 documentary in English about Israeli chef Yotam Ottolenghi and his commission to represent the French Palace of Versailles in — you guessed it — cakes.

January 26. Lior Lev Sercarz, the chef, spice blender and owner of La Boite, a New York City biscuits and spice shop, will prepare a freekeh and feta salad, charred eggplant and a labneh parfait. The film is “A Touch of Spice,” a 2003 drama about a Turkish refugee in Greece revisiting childhood memories. It’s 108 minutes in Greek, Turkish and English, with English subtitles.

February 2. Danielle Renov, food blogger, influencer and author of the popular cookbook “Peas, Love and Carrots,” will prepare meat-stuffed artichokes, sumac-scented fennel and tangerine salad. The film is “In Search of Israeli Cuisine,” a perfect accompaniment. In this visually enticing, 96-minute documentary in English from 2016, Israel-born chef Michael Solomonov (known for his Philadelphia restaurant Zahav) takes a field trip to Israel to explore the diverse roots of Israeli food.

February 9. Adeena Sussman, the bestselling author of “Sababa: Fresh Sunny Flavors from my Israeli Kitchen,” among others, will be introduced by Solomonov. She will prepare two of her cookbook’s desserts, “My Mother’s Irresistible Peach Kuchen” and  “Chewy Tahini Blondies.” The film is the 94-minute “Dough,” a light British drama from 2015. Set in England, it is about a young Muslim who apprentices in a failing Jewish bakery, and adds a special “green ingredient” that sends sales sky high.

Now how’s your appetite?

For more information or to make reservations for free tickets, visit eastbayjewishfilm.org.

Laura Pall
Laura Paull

Laura Paull is J.'s Culture Editor, and was a longtime J. freelance writer before that.