Five-Time James Beard Award winner Michael Solomonov is the executive chef and co-owner of Zahav, an Israeli restaurant in Philadelphia that has been a pioneer in bringing Israeli food to American consumers. In 2019, Zahav won the coveted James Beard Award for Outstanding Restaurant, which, in the culinary world, is analogous to the Academy Award for Best Picture.

Solomonov has been a long-time favorite of the James Beard Awards. His original interpretations of modern Israeli cuisine earned him the Outstanding Chef Award in 2017. His cookbook, “Zahav: A World of Israeli Cooking,” written with business partner Steve Cook, won both Book of the Year and International Cookbook of the Year in 2016. His 2011 win for Best Chef of the Mid-Atlantic brings Solomonov's total count of James Beard Awards up to five. 

If you want to spice up your next event with Solomonov's entrepreneurial savvy and experiences in the culinary world, contact AAE for fees and availability.

Israeli Chef and master of Middle Eastern cuisine Michael Solomonov talks about becoming a chef, his James Beard Award wins and his successful restaurants Zahav and Federal Donuts on CBS' The Dish.

With five James Beard Awards under his belt, Solomonov’s inspiring journey up to this point is one of overcoming personal struggle and embracing the food and culture of his birthplace. Born in Israel, but raised in Pittsburgh, PA, Solomonov returned to his country of origin at the age of 18 with no Hebrew language skills. Feeling a spark after taking a job at a bakery, he started looking into the prospects of becoming a chef. His next move took him to culinary school in West Palm Beach, Florida, after which he migrated north to Philadelphia.

In 2003, Solomonov’s brother was killed while serving in the Israeli army, and the tragedy pushed Solomonov to focus on better understanding his birth country’s language, food, and culture. Ever since he opened his landmark restaurant Zahav in 2008, Solomonov has been turning heads with his extraordinary skill at transforming simple foods into artful culinary masterpieces. Today, he continues to find inspiration and comfort in his Israeli roots and Jewish faith.

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