A 2011 James Beard Award winner for “Best Chef, Mid-Atlantic,” Chef Michael Solomonov is the executive chef at Zahav (237 St. James Place, 215-625-8800), Philadelphia’s renowned modern Israeli restaurant. Known for his extraordinary skill at transforming simple foods into artful culinary masterpieces, he is widely regarded as one of the city’s top young chefs and entrepreneurs. In addition to his duties at Zahav, of which is he co-owner, Chef Solomonov is a partner in Percy Street Barbecue(900 South Street, 215-625-8510), a Southern inspired barbecue restaurant and bar on South Street that has quickly become known as the best place in Philadelphia for smoked meats, and Federal Donuts (two locations: 1219 South 2nd Street and 1632 Sansom Street) a mostly take-out, donuts-and-fried-chicken shop serving exceptional coffee, cake donuts and fried chicken.
In 2012, Food & Wine magazine named Chef Solomonov among the country’s top “Empire Builders,” admiring his devotion “to reinventing overlooked cuisines.” Chef Solomonov was also the subject of a New York Times feature in 2011 that explored the genesis and continued success of Zahav, which praised his “simple food with layers of flavor.” That same year, Zahav was elevated to a coveted “Four Bells: Superior” rating from the Philadelphia Inquirer, one of only four restaurants citywide to attain that elite status. Both Conde Nast Traveler and Travel + Leisure named Zahav among the top restaurants in the nation in their May 2009 issues, and Esquire named Zahav among their “Best New Restaurants, 2008.” Zahav has also been featured in Bon Appetit, which selected the restaurant as one of their “Hot 10 Summer Blockbusters.” Philadelphia magazine named Zahav “Best New Restaurant, 2008” in their annual “Best of Philly” issue
Before opening Zahav, which means “gold” in Hebrew, in 2008, Chef Solomonov was the executive chef at West Philadelphia’s Marigold Kitchen, which he and restaurateur Steven Cook co-owned until 2009. There, he was named “Rising Star Chef, 2007” by Restaurant Hospitality magazine, as well as “Best Chef, 2006” by Philadelphia magazine. Prior to joining Cook at Marigold Kitchen, Chef Solomonov worked under such top chefs as Marc Vetri at Vetri and Terence Feury at Striped Bass. He is a graduate of the Florida Culinary Institute in West Palm Beach, FL. Born in Israel, he grew up in Pittsburgh, PA and now calls Philadelphia home. He frequently travels back to Israel, including an epic 2008 trip with the entire opening team from Zahav to introduce them to the cuisine they would be preparing and serving.
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