Prominent Philadelphia Chef Talks Drug Addiction, Recovery

Mike Solomonov of Cook N Solo speaks publicly for the first time about his addiction and recovery from crack cocaine

Prominent Philadelphia Chef Mike Solomonov Talks Drug Addiction, Recovery
Michael Persico/Jason Varney
In a moving profile of the chef, The New York Times talks to Mike Solomonov of Cook+Solo about his struggles with drug addiction.

Mike Solomonov is one half of the Philadelphia restaurateur duo Cook+Solo (sometimes Cook N Solo), who, together with Steve Cook, owns the restaurants Zahav, Percy Street Barbecue, Federal Donuts, Dizengoff (newly open), and Abe Fisher (opening in September).

In advance of an upcoming PBS documentary about his connection with Israeli culture and cuisine, which will likely bring about more public awareness of Solomonov and his life, the chef recently spoke with Frank Bruni of The New York Times about his long and difficult struggle with crack cocaine and heroin, which worsened after the death of his brother, David, in 2003.

While serving in the Israeli army, David was killed by sniper fire at the age of 21.

“Nobody expects somebody like me to be a recovering crack head,” Solomonov told Bruni of his decision to address his past publicly. “I felt I was holding back.”

Over the next few years, Mike would sneak off in the middle of a workday to buy and smoke crack, or drive around the city looking for more after his wife went to sleep.

Then in 2008, when Zahav was just a few months old, Mary and Steve confronted Mike, and he went to rehab with their support.

Now clean and counting the days, Solomonov and his wife have two sons, and a better way to remember his brother. Last fall, Solomonov and a group of American chefs toured Israel, and cooked a special meal to mark the 10th anniversary of David’s death. 

For the latest food and drink updates, visit our Food News page.

Karen Lo is an associate editor at The Daily Meal. Follow her on Twitter @appleplexy.


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