Abigail Klein Leichman
May 4, 2017, Updated May 3, 2017

Monday night, on the eve of Israeli Independence Day, Israeli-born US restaurateur Michael Solomonov was honored with the Outstanding Chef award at the James Beard Foundation Awards in Chicago.

The award recognized his work at Israeli fusion restaurant Zahav in Philadelphia, which Solomonov and partner Steve Cook opened in 2008 with the aim of putting Israeli-inspired dishes and Israeli-produced ingredients on American plates.

Solomonov also co-owns other eateries in Philadelphia, including hummus and Israeli salads restaurant Dizengoff; falafel joint Goldie; and Abe Fisher, which serves up Jewish world cuisine.

Click here to read ISRAEL21c’s interview with Solomonov after he won a regional Best Chefs in America award in 2011, his first win at the prestigious James Beard culinary awards.

Last July, Solomonov lent his star power to a tasting event co-sponsored by ISRAEL21c following the San Francisco premiere of the Roger Sherman documentary The Search for Israeli Cuisine, in which he appeared as host.

Solomonov is no newcomer to the James Beard Awards. He was a semifinalist Rising Star Chef of the Year in 2008 and 2009, and in 2010 was nominated in the Best Chefs in America category. He also was semifinalist Outstanding Chef in 2015 and was nominated as Outstanding Chef again last year. In 2016, Solomonov and Cook won two Beard awards for their cookbook, Zahav: A World of Israeli Cooking.

Michael Solomonov dining with Israeli celebrity chef Meir Adoni in Tel Aviv. Photo courtesy of Florentine Films

Another Israeli connection at this year’s event was the Rising Star Chef award given to Zachary Engel, chef de cuisine at Shaya restaurant in New Orleans. Shaya is the creation of Israeli-American chef Alon Shaya. In 2016, the restaurant won in the Best New Restaurant category for its modern Israeli cuisine.

Click here to read ISRAEL21c’s interview with Shaya when he was nominated in 2012 for the Best Southern US Chef award.

The James Beard Foundation’s mission is “to celebrate, nurture, and honor chefs and other leaders making America’s food culture more delicious, diverse, and sustainable for everyone.”

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Jason Harris

Jason Harris

Executive Director

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