Israeli Cuisine in America: Chef Michael Solomonov and Israel’s Diverse Flavor Palate

December 21, 2018


Head Chef and co-owner of Philadelphia’s Zahav Restaurant, Michael Solomonov has become a celebrated figure in American fine-dining. Solomonov, a James Beard Award winning chef, brings many classic Israeli dishes to Philadelphia. Zahav, opened in 2008, with its nearly two-month wait for a table on a weekend evening is not the only location in Philadelphia to taste his mastery of Israeli cuisine. He has opened other restaurants, including Dizengoff Hummus.  

Solomonov’s food barrows from many flavors and dishes that have become integral to Israeli cuisine and culture over the decades. A representation of the greater mix of diasporic Jewish traditions that have shaped Israeli society, his recipes showcase “the melting-pot …of Israel, especially the influences of the Middle East, North Africa, the Mediterranean, and Eastern Europe.” In bringing these diverse flavors together with a level of refinement and complexity found only in the world’s top restaurants, Solomonov offers American diners the opportunity to taste the finest of Israel’s varied and flavorful culinary traditions and trends. 

Israeli cuisine in general is finding new attention on the international stage. The uniqueness of Israel’s flavorful and diverse culinary palate and a new generation of Israeli chefs bringing their own takes on this food to cities world-wide have been at the center of this phenomenon. In reference to the spread in the US of a variety of Israeli eateries, Stacey Ballis writes, “Israeli cuisine is having a moment. Borne of the success of powerhouses like Zahav in Philadelphia and Shaya in New Orleans, the multifaceted and multi-cultural foodways of the Middle East in general and Israel in specific are spawning hummuserias and falafel houses all over the country, and fine-dining elevated restaurants galore.” 

Fine dining establishments presenting Israeli cuisine can be found in major cities around the world: Ottelenghi in London, Alenbi in Brooklyn, Ema in Chicago, and Crossroads Kitchen in Los Angeles are just a few.

In this video, Solomonov discusses his roots in the restaurant industry and personal relationship with Israel and its food.