Celebrity chef Jamie Oliver. (Arthur Mola/Invision/AP) Arthur Mola/Invision/AP


British celebrity chef Jamie Oliver captured the tastes and flavors of the Holy Land when he filmed his popular TV show in Israel this year.

By United with Israel Staff

British celebrity chef Jamie Oliver called Israel “a cook or chef’s heaven” when he shot his UK Channel 4 show in Israel. The filming took place in January and was aired earlier this month.

Oliver, known as “The Naked Chef” and proponent of healthful eating and veganism, is the UK’s second-best selling author, behind J.K. Rowling and the best-selling British non-fiction author since records began. He was named the UK’s most influential person in 2005 and 2010.

The celebrity chef made a series of segments in Israel called “Jamie’s Meat-Free Meals.”

The show started in Jerusalem’s Old City shuk (open market), where he helped a shopkeeper create a decorative pyramid out of zaatar and other Middle Eastern spices.

His excitement was palpable as he enjoyed the unique smells and the myriad of spices and flavors in Israel.

Oliver then moved onto Tel Aviv, a haven for people seeking delicious non-animal based meals. The city is even host to a “Vegan congress.”

He enjoyed a vegan shwarma made at the Sultana vegan restaurant. Shwarma is usually made from thinly cut slices of lamb, beef or chicken stacked onto a long skewer and roasted on a slowly-turning vertical rotisserie. Instead, Oliver enjoyed a meat-free shwarma, made from mushrooms, soy and onions grilled in the same way as the traditional version.

Obviously impressed with the delicious creation, that takes about four hours to prepare, Oliver declared, “This is love!”

Noting that his meal was “not the normal kind of fast food,” renown vegan chef Harel Zakim smiled and answered, “It’s slow fast food.”

Approximately five percent of Israelis have opted for a vegan diet. Israel’s army is known as the “most vegan army in the world,” even providing non-animal based meals to soldiers who make that request.