The Pickle Recipe

Posted by: Elizabeth Applebaum on Thursday, April 27, 2017
pickle recipe jcc of metro detroit

Lynn Cohen in "The Pickle Recipe."


It all began with a little truth and a lot of “what if?”

Gary Wolfson had a grandmother who made a great pickle, but she died before passing on the recipe.

A grandmother with a great pickle recipe – now that’s an idea for a movie!

But Wolfson and friend Sheldon Cohn nixed the whole death angle.

Instead, they began to wonder: What if a grandmother had a pickle recipe of which she was very protective? What if someone tried to steal it? What if she discovered that the would-be thief was her grandson – and he had an accomplice in his uncle, her own son?

Sheldon Cohn and Gary Wolfson are the writers of “The Pickle Recipe,” which will show 2 p.m. Sunday, May 14 at the Lenore Marwil Detroit Jewish Film Festival, followed by a talk-back with the writers and director Michael Manasseri.

“Even though the characters are Jewish and it’s about a kosher pickle recipe, everyone can relate to it, which we’re very proud of,” Cohn says of “The Pickle Recipe.”  

Cohn and Wolfson have been friends for more than 30 years. They met at Doner Advertising, “where we were partners on many projects.” They especially loved working on campaigns that involved telling stories, and sometimes they imagined making a movie together.  They would even discuss ideas, but they often ended up being too expensive.

Then they began to focus on that grandmother, and they imagined a grandson desperate for money who “goes over to the dark side and goes out to steal his grandmother’s secret pickle recipe,” Cohn says.

And then they wrote the script and they found investors (that makes it sound simple – but it was actually a lot of work). Everything would be filmed in Detroit (local residents will recognize the Eastern Market, Temple Shir Shalom and the Hygrade Deli, which is called Irv’s in the movie).

From the start, there was only one actress they wanted for the starring role of Grandma Rose: Lynn Cohen, known for her work on “Law and Order,” “Sex and the City” and “The Hunger Games.”

“She was always at the top of the list – which only had one name on it,” Cohn says. “No other human being would have been able to play the part.”

Interestingly, there’s a lot of improvisation in the film. The actors were funny, Cohn says, so he and Wolf were happy to let them ad lib.

“‘The Pickle Recipe’ is probably the best indie comedy to come out of this area, but more importantly, it’s good, goofy fun,” Tom Long wrote in The Detroit News.

But it does keep its secret. 

Thoughtful viewers are sure to wonder: “So what’s the recipe for the pickles, already?”

For now, the writers are as tight-lipped as Grandma Rose.

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