'Chewdaism'

Jamie Elman, left center, and Eli Batalion, right center 

“This is where the cool kids hang,” said celebrity chef and travel documentarian Anthony Bourdain when visiting Montreal for an episode of his food-driven CNN original series, “Parts Unknown.”

In Travel Channel’s “Bizarre Foods,” host and culinary expert Andrew Zimmern noted Montreal inspired some of his “most deeply resonant lost weekends.”

But for Eli Batalion and Jamie Elman – Canadian funnymen, best friends and stars of the award-winning Yiddish language web series, “Yidlife Crisis” – their hometown is so much more. It is the source of the foodstuffs that help define their Jewish heritage, which is the focus of their 2018 nosh-umentary, “Chewdaism: A Taste of Jewish Montreal.” The film is featured in the Cleveland Jewish FilmFest that runs from Sept. 5 to Sept. 15.

When asked what two Canadian comedians bring to the table in their film that famous foodies in their TV series don’t, Elman is quick to note in a telephone interview from Los Angeles that “Chewdaism” is a buddy film and a gastronomic tour “by two guys with zero expertise in things culinary, but who most certainly like to eat. And it’s a love letter to our birthplace and its Jewish food culture.”

While their web series explores the burning questions and bizarre absurdities of contemporary Jewish life over a quick meal at a local restaurant, “Chewdaism” delves into the rich Jewish history and the even richer cuisine of Québec province’s largest city. From bagels at St-Viateur Bagel Shop and deli at Wilensky’s Light Lunch to a raucous Sephardi dinner and a taste of Jewish fusion fare, the best Jewish eateries in Montreal are sampled and described with affection, humor and historical context.

“In short, we hope that the film will be ed-Jew-cational as well as very entertaining,” Elman, said.

Elman and Batalion will be in Cleveland to participate in the 2019 Mandel JCC Jewish Cleveland Book Festival from Nov. 3 to Nov. 18.

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