British celebrity chef Jamie Oliver toured Tel Aviv this week, sampling Israeli cuisine for what is rumored to be his latest, still secret, television show, The Jewish Chronicle reported Wednesday.
As part of his trip around the city, Oliver visited the Sultana vegan restaurant on Ibn Gabirol Street, where he ordered its trademark vegan schwarma. On Facebook, the restaurant posted a picture of a smiling Oliver along with a statement that said: “Yes, the rumors are true. Chef Jamie Oliver has visited us for a TV show that will be aired later this year. He was charming and enjoyed the schwarma and the atmosphere, and that’s just about all we can say for the time being.”
Tel Aviv chef Jonathan Borowitz accompanied him around parts of the city, as did a very large entourage, including a film production team, fueling rumors that Oliver was in Israel to film for his new television show.
Borowitz said, “Jamie Oliver toured the Carmel Market where he visited vegetarian stores and was excited about everything that he ate and he heard from me about the ‘farm to table’ social movement in Tel Aviv.”
The celebrity chef has been spotted eating vegetable-filled street food at the Panda Pita pop-up stall in the Carmel Market. Elsewhere in the market, Oliver tasted the Latin American dish arepas at the Venezuelan street food eatery, Arepita’s Town.
Oliver and his team will reportedly be spending a full week in Israel, the Chronicle said.
In related news, a group of gourmet cooks, writers, restaurateurs, and food personalities gather for the Celebrity Chef’s Birthright trip in Israel, organized by culinary producer and entrepreneur Herb Karlitz.
The project is not connected to the Birthright program, which invites 18 to 26-year-old Jews to experience Israel.
The Times of Israel reported that Karlitz told the group that he was “blown away” by Israel’s culinary scene when he visited last year and “how it had changed from my first trip, more than 20 years ago, when I left ‘schnitzled’ out and underwhelmed by the lack of variety.”
The guests also spoke appreciatively of Israel’s culinary scene. Baker and restaurateur Nancy Silverton, who has visited Israel in the past, said she “was so blown away, it’s so damn delicious,” and noted, “It’s great to be back.”
The group included chef, food writer, and last editor-in-chief of the now-shuttered Gourmet Magazine Ruth Reichl, baker and restaurateur Nancy Silverton, chef and TV personality Marc Murphy, chef and restaurateur Jonathan Waxman, and chef and “Chopped” judge Amanda Freitag.
The group also includes Andrew Zimmern, of “Bizarre Food” fame. He is documenting the Israel trip on his Instagram feed.
[Photo: Sultana / סולטנה / Facebook ]