Mike Solomonov Wants People To Get Excited For Israeli Food

Michael Solomonov is the Israeli-American chef behind Philadelphia restaurant group Cook N Solo. Together with partner Steve Cook, the team's restaurants include Zahav, Federal Donuts, Percy Street Barbecue, and most recently, Abe Fisher (an Israeli hummusiya) and Dizengoff (inspired by food of the Jewish diaspora).

At this year's Food Network New York City Wine & Food Festival, chef Solomonov, along with Einat Admony and Sara Kramer, will host the Mediterranean Exploration dinner on Saturday, October 18, at the International Culinary Center.

In advance of the dinner, we spoke with chef Solomonov about his menu inspiration and the best foods he's ever made.

This interview is part of a series of interviews highlighting the chefs of the Food Network New York City Wine & Food Festival.

What's the inspiration behind the menu that you are preparing for your NYCWFF dinner?

I'm doing stuffed grape leaves that we steam, which is traditional, but then we grill them — which is something Vietnamese cooks do — so you have crispy grape leaves. Technique aside, the major inspiration for this dinner is to be in the company of like-minded chefs Sara Kramer and Einat Admony, who are so brilliant.

What's the one thing you want people to take away from your dinner?

For them to be excited about Israeli food.

What do you consider to be your best creation ever? What's the best thing you've ever cooked? Sweetbreads wrapped with chicken skin, with tehina and sumac, is my greatest creation. Or, making delicious hummus and laffa almost every day for the past six years.

What's your favorite kitchen tool (beyond your knife)?

 A spoon.

The Food Network New York City Wine & Food Festival benefits hunger-relief organizations; do you think that chefs have social responsibility beyond simply feeding people honestly and well?

Yes, we do. In the same way that everyone has a social responsibility, if you can, you should feed more than just the demographic that can come to your restaurants.

Tickets are available now for Mediterranean Exploration with Michael Solomonov, Einat Admony and Sara Kramer: Part of the Bank of America Dinner Series.