What’s the main story that your food tells?
Food always changes and adapts. That’s the beautiful thing about Israel. I go to Israel four times a year and I’m eating all the time. I land and there’s the cool new restaurant I haven’t been to, and the one that’s been around for 100 years. It’s always inspiring and exciting.
As the first generation of immigrants from the diaspora passes on, will something about Israeli
cuisine be lost?
Cultures change, but because of this tapestry of gastronomy in such a small, concentrated place, it’s all progress. Fifty years ago, Israeli cuisine didn’t exist.
You’ve won five James Beard Awards now. What do you want to do when you grow up?
We’ve got a lot of plans. From a restaurant standpoint, we want to grow and build our team. We want to be ethical and enrich Philadelphia and enrich peace in the Middle East. We have a long way to go.
Israeli Soul is a return, of sorts, to the streets, a back to basics. What drew you to this approach?
The essence of a good chef is to show restraint and strip away. That is something that we’re working on: getting back to the basics of hospitality, and being able to tell a story that includes commonality while carrying on the traditions of our ancestors.
I also want people to be affected emotionally. I want them to come into the restaurant and sense something they haven’t felt for a very long time. The smell of the fat hitting charcoal. I want people to be transported. Getting yourself out of the way is key to that.
You have an egg. What would you do with it right now?
I would start the egg in cold water and bring it up to a boil, let it boil for one minute exactly. I’d cover the pot for seven minutes. I would peel the egg, slice it in half, take harissa, lemons, and tuna confit and place that on top with dried olives.
Michael Solomonov’s Haminados
Reproduced with permission from Israeli Soul
2 black tea bags
2 T Turkish coffee
Peels from 4 yellow onions
STEP 1 Preheat the oven to 200°. In a large ovenproof pot, mix all the ingredients with 2 quarts water. Cover and bake for at least 8 hours or overnight.
STEP 2 Remove pot from the oven, crack but do not peel the eggs, then return them to the pot with the liquid. Cook over high heat, uncovered, until all the liquid has evaporated. Transfer eggs to a plate to cool, then peel and slice.
Michael Solomonov and business partner Steven Cook talk about their latest cookbook, Israeli Soul, October 24 at 6:30 p.m. at the Fremont Abbey. $40 includes signed book. booklarder.com