Chef Michael Solomonov opens up about his new award, the doc­u­men­tary and his char­i­ta­ble part­ner­ships.

Chef Michael Solomonov talks ve­gan falafel, char­i­ta­ble col­lab­o­ra­tions and his new­est claim to culi­nary fame: a James Beard Award.

Philadelphia Style - - CONTENTS - By A.D. Amorosi

If any Philadel­phian de­serves a James Beard Award for Out­stand­ing Chef, it’s Michael Solomonov, who fi­nally snagged the culi­nary nod in May. From el­e­vat­ing earthy Is­raeli cuisine to an in­ven­tive art form with the open­ing of his first restau­rant, Za­hav, to pen­ning his first cook­book ( Za­hav: A World of Is­raeli Cook­ing) with part­ner Steven Cook ( cookn­solo.com), to film­ing his doc­u­men­tary, In Search of Is­raeli Cuisine, with di­rec­tor Roger Sher­man that’s be­ing re­leased on DVD this fall, the award-win­ning chef ’s tal­ents across all plat­forms are cer­tainly a force to be reck­oned with. In ad­di­tion to th­ese in­di­vid­ual projects that alone are wor­thy of the glit­ter­ing prize, Solomonov also turned hum­mus into a Cen­ter City sta­ple with the un­veil­ing of Dizen­goff; de­vel­oped Fed­eral Donuts and Dizen­goff in other cities; and opened Rooster Soup Co. diner with the aid of Broad Street Min­istry Hos­pi­tal­ity Col­lab­o­ra­tive, whose prof­its help care for Philly’s home­less.

What’s the least generic an­swer you can give about win­ning a James Beard Award?

My award was at the end of a three-anda- half- hour cer­e­mony, and I spent all that time try­ing not to look like I cared.

What does a Beard do for you, both pro­fes­sion­ally and per­son­ally?

It’s more for Steve [Cook] and I and our restau­rant group Cookn­solo— some­thing for the team. It also hap­pened on the an­niver­sary of Is­raeli In­de­pen­dence Day, so it’s a win for Is­rael too.

Peo­ple are cap­ti­vated by the doc­u­men­tary and the cus­tom­ized food tours that Roger Sher­man is run­ning in Is­rael this fall. What’s in store for the fu­ture of that pro­gram?

My friend Avi Ts­abari, who is in the film and runs the culi­nary school there, is a big par t of this. It’s a lot of back- and- for th travel, but well wor th it.

How is the part­ner­ship with Broad Street Min­istry go­ing at Rooster Soup Co.?

Don’t for­get we opened Goldie (a ve­gan falafel shop), too, above Rooster at the same time. Each time we open some­thing, we’re learn­ing ev­ery­thing over again. The Min­istry part­ner­ship means lis­ten­ing to team mem­bers con­cerned with help­ing peo­ple and is our move into the non­profit world. That’s a win-win for me. Plus, Rooster’s food is great.

You’re open­ing Fed­eral Donuts and Dizen­goff out of town. How do you feel about the Philly food scene?

Ob­jec­tively speak­ing, there’s an en­ergy to this city— its food and the cul­ture of that food— that hasn’t been here in a long time. I’m jazzed.

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