Michael Solomonov Shares No-Waste Lessons from His Frugal, Immigrant Parents

© Con Poulos

By Chelsea Morse Posted November 03, 2015

Inspired by his frugal immigrant parents, star Philadelphia chef Michael Solomonov has come up with spectacular new ways to use up all the ingredient scraps at his restaurants.

Chef Michael Solomonov attributes his obsession with zero-waste cooking to his immigrant upbringing. When his parents moved from Israel to Pittsburgh, they brought with them a frugal mentality. “To this day, my dad still eats apple cores and stems because when he was growing up, there wasn’t an excess of anything,” he says. That spirit informs the cooking at his incredible Philadelphia restaurant Zahav, where he pickles cauliflower cores (250 a week) and uses leftover pickle juice to make crispy, briny potatoes. His new cookbook, Zahav, from which the recipes on the following page have been adapted, details the myriad ways he creates something out of seemingly nothing.

"My dad still eats apple cores and stems because when he was growing up, there wasn't an excess of anything."

Since Zahav opened in 2008, Solomonov’s empire has grown to include the fantastic fried-chicken-and-doughnut franchise Federal Donuts, now with five Philadelphia locations. The trim from the 2,000 birds a week that Federal Donuts serves amounts to literally half a ton of scrap: chicken backs, necks and wing tips. With his business partner Steven Cook, Solomonov conceived the idea for Rooster Soup Co. to put their food waste to work. Launching in spring 2016, after securing more than $175,000 in donations on Kickstarter, the luncheonette will serve things like chicken soup with fideos and chicken noodle pho. Profits will go to the Broad Street Hospitality Collaborative, an organization that helps the homeless. “Every restaurant has a by-product,” says Cook, “but it’s rare to get a huge quantity of one thing, like chicken parts, that would be sufficient to make a menu item that’s self-sustaining.”

Solomonov's No-Waste Recipes:
Cauliflower-Heart Pickles
Winter Squash Soup with Kale and Fideos
Fried Pickled Potatoes with Harissa Tahini
Rooster Soup Co. Broth


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