How One Philly Chef – and a Renowned Spice Master – Are Helping Feed the City’s Hungry
Lior Sercarz creates masterful spice blends for some of America’s best restaurants, and now he’s donating a brand new one to Michael Solomonov’s Rooster Soup Co. in Philadelphia – for an important cause.
Legendary spice master Lior Sercarz, owner of New York City’s La Boîte, supplies spices for Éric Ripert, collaborates with Brooklyn Brewery’s brewmaster Garrett Oliver and recently worked on a zuta mint gin with Indiana distillery Cardinal Spirits. Now, Sercarz is mixing up a custom blend for a Philadelphia diner – and providing it free of charge.
The latest project from chef Michael Solomonov and Steve Cook’s CookNSolo restaurant group, Rooster Soup Co. emerged from Federal Donuts, their popular fried chicken and doughnut shop. Cook had the idea to create broth from the restaurant’s chicken scraps, which led to the birth of Rooster Soup Co. The all-day luncheonette opened in January with a menu that includes chef Erin O’Shea’s Southern-inspired breakfast staples, inventive sandwiches (their BLT stands for “bacon, latke and tomato”) and, of course, soups — the practically zero-cost broth created by Federal Donuts’ spare chicken bones are used to make varieties like smoked matzo ball and mushroom barley.
Besides finding a unique way to make money out of food waste, the restaurant is donating 100% of its profits to the Broad Street Ministry Hospitality Collaborative, a local nonprofit organization that provides Philadelphia’s most vulnerable citizens with meals – over 75,000 last year alone. When Sercarz, a longtime collaborator and friend of Solomonov’s, heard about the restaurant’s mission, he offered to donate a signature spice to Rooster Soup.
“As chefs, we have a great responsibility to feed people – everybody,” says Sercarz. “When [Mike] told me about the soup I started thinking about the idea that in Israel, every house has a box of chicken bouillon. So I wanted to play around this idea of bouillon powder for Rooster.”
Adds Solomonov, “He and I both have nostalgic memories of that instant bouillon. It’s the Osem brand — that’s what everyone grew up with.”
According to the chef, the Rooster Spice includes rose and orange blossom, among other top-secret additions. After first smelling and tasting the creation, Solomonov started brainstorming ideas for a new Rooster Soup recipe that could include schmaltz (chicken fat) and cinnamon.
“His spices are premium – and expensive as shit. To give it to us is a really big deal,” he says. “The way that we’re going to apply it to the soup will be really exciting.”