Chef Michael Solomonov is helping to build a culinary school in Israel
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Chef Michael Solomonov is helping to build a culinary school in Israel

Award-winning Philadelphia restauranteur announces he is taking part in JNF-led project in north

From left to right, Jewish National Fund CEO Russell Robinson, Lior Lev Sercarz and Michael Solomonov are teaming up to open a culinary school and food technology center in the Israeli city of Kiryat Shmona. (Josefin Dolsten/JTA)
From left to right, Jewish National Fund CEO Russell Robinson, Lior Lev Sercarz and Michael Solomonov are teaming up to open a culinary school and food technology center in the Israeli city of Kiryat Shmona. (Josefin Dolsten/JTA)

NEW YORK (JTA) — Michael Solomonov, the award-winning Philadelphia restauranteur, has joined the advisory council of an Israeli culinary school set to open in 2021.

Solomonov announced he was becoming the inaugural member of the school’s advisory council at a press conference in New York last week alongside Lior Lev Sercarz, an Israeli chef involved in the project.

Both chefs are working with the Jewish National Fund to create the Galilee Culinary Institute at Kibbutz Gonen near Kiryat Shmona in northern Israel. Solomonov is also working with JNF to build a food and technology innovation center in the city. The institute and center will cost $29 million to build.

The institute will offer a four-year accredited program, and the first class is expected to start in the fall of 2021.

“I always felt bad that young men and women in Israel or the region don’t necessarily have where to go to learn about cooking and the culinary studies. There are a few private schools now, which is great, but not at the scale that I would want it to be,” Sercarz told the Jewish Telegraphic Agency in 2017.

Both chefs are born in Israel but based in the United States. Solomonov has opened a number of restaurants, and his Philadelphia eatery Zahav was named the best in the country in May by the James Beard Foundation. Sercarz owns La Boite, an upscale spice shop in Manhattan.

“We are seeing a renaissance in Israeli food as American diners embrace the cultural melting pot of cuisines from my home country,” Solomonov said in a statement. “GCI by JNF will be a new type of culinary school, where budding chefs will work with the unique mix of cultures and cuisines that can only be found in the north of Israel.”

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