Behind the Headlines

Join ToI Community for celeb chef Michael Solomonov, and taste Israel’s flavors

In this week’s Behind the Headlines, exclusively for ToI Community members, the beloved restaurateur known for popularizing Israeli cuisine shares his knafeh recipe for home chefs

Chef Michael Solomonov. (Photo credit: Steve Legato)
Chef Michael Solomonov. (Photo credit: Steve Legato)

This week on Behind the Headlines, celebrity chef and restaurateur Michael Solomonov joins us to discuss his role in the Israeli and Jewish culinary worlds, the pivoting he and his team have done throughout COVID-19, and his new digital live-at-home cooking series, “Bringing Israel Home.” He also gives a quick tutorial on how to make the Israeli-Palestinian classic, knafeh: halloumi cheese wrapped in shredded filo pastry with a honey-orange blossom syrup and pistachio garnish.

The episode is already live for Times of Israel Community members, but it’s not too late to join ToI Community now and access this week’s segment, along with past episodes and the rest of our wide-ranging library of exclusive content.

The Philadelphia-based Solomonov is a well-known champion of Israel’s diverse and vibrant culinary landscape, and Times of Israel Culture and Lifestyle Editor Jessica Steinberg makes the perfect host for this week’s segment with her firsthand knowledge of Israel’s culinary scene.

Together, the two trade insights on Israeli cultural icons, how Israel and the US are each dealing with the current health crisis, and how Solomonov has rediscovered his love for cooking in his own home kitchen – something professional chefs often don’t have the time to do.

The latter has been doubly fulfilling for Solomonov, as he uses his kitchen as the staging ground of his new free online web series, “Bringing Israel Home,” which also helps him cope with being unable to visit the Holy Land under the current circumstances.

Illustrative: Chef Michael Solomonov samples spices at the Levinsky Market in Tel Aviv. (Florentine Films)

“For over a decade, I’ve said that if there was a way we could just bring everybody over to Israel, I would do that,” Solomonov says about pep talks he would give staff at his flagship restaurant Zahav before service. “The kitchen, all of my team members, all of our guests — if we could bring them all to Israel it would be great, but we can’t, so we’re going to cook dinner for them.”

“And I feel like this is just another extension of that, another way to do it, and for me to do it without losing my mind, because I haven’t been to Israel in over a year, which is long for me,” he says.

Chef Michael Solomonov (left) tastes cheeses made by Shai Seltzer in the Judaean Hills. Before his death, Seltzer aged his cheeses in a cave that dates back to Second Temple times. (Florentine Films)

Solomonov co-owns and operates numerous restaurants in the Philadelphia area together with hospitality entrepreneur Steve Cook — including Zahav, Dizengoff, Goldie, K’far, and Merkaz, to name just a few of their Sabra-themed establishments. He’s also the co-author of three cookbooks and the recipient of four James Beard culinary awards.

Join The Times of Israel Community now to access this week’s episode for the full discussion with Solomonov, plus his knafeh recipe for the home chef.

To see this and future episodes of Behind the Headlines, join the Times of Israel Community today. You’ll also gain access to all of our exclusive online content, an ad-free experience of the ToI site and apps, and a weekly insider letter from David Horovitz.

If you are already a ToI Community member, you’ll receive a link to all Behind the Headlines sessions by email.

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