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.