Israeli eatery in Philly sparkles at James Beard nominations

The Israeli eatery got two nods, and two Israelis were recognized in the book category.

March 14, 2018 19:43
2 minute read.
Israeli eatery in Philly sparkles at James Beard nominations

MICHAEL SOLOMONOV poses with his James Beard Award at last year's gala. (photo credit: HUGE GALDONES)


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The acclaimed Israeli eatery Zahav – located in Philadelphia – could be adding even more accolades to its collection at the prestigious James Beard Awards this year.

The restaurant, helmed by Israeli native Michael Solomonov, was nominated for two prizes, one for outstanding service, and the other for rising chef star of the year – for Camilla Cogswell.

Solomonov won outstanding chef last year, book of the year for Zahav in 2016 and best chef, mid-Atlantic, in 2011. The eatery calls itself a “modern Israeli restaurant that brings the authentic flavors of Israel’s cultural heritage to Philadelphia.”

In the outstanding service category, Zahav will be competing against a classic Jewish deli – Zingerman’s in Ann Arbor, Michigan, which has been around since 1982. It is decidedly non-kosher, with bacon and pork on the menu, but it also serves corned beef, pastrami, blintzes, latkes and noodle kugel.

The only kosher eatery to make this year’s semifinalist shortlist – Zak the Baker in Miami – didn’t make the nominations cut. The James Beard Awards have never honored a kosher establishment in their 28 years in existence, though numerous kosher cookbooks have been honored.

However, Zak the Baker – i.e. Zak Stern – did get a mention in the journalistic nominations, with a nod for a Miami Herald article by Carlos Frias titled “How a Secular Jewish Baker Became Miami’s Kosher King.”

In the books department this year, there were some noteworthy nods. Yotam Ottolenghi, the Israeli chef who has created a mini empire in the UK, was nominated in the dessert section for his latest book, Sweet. He won in 2013 for Jerusalem and in 2016 for NOPI.

Michael Twitty, an African-American Jew who goes by the handle “KosherSoul,” was nominated for his historical exploration The Cooking Gene. Reem Kassis got a nod in the international category for The Palestinian Table.

Other relevant journalistic nods include “In Pursuit of Perfect Hummus” by J.M. Hirsch in Christopher Kimball’s Milk Street Magazine, in which he explored hummus around Israel.

And in the profile journalism category, Rebecca Flint Marx got a nod for Taste magazine’s “The Untold Story of the Lady from Louisville and the Bubbe Who Wasn’t There.” In it, Marx stumbled across the 1956 cookbook Love and Knishes and set out to find more about its author, Sara Kasdan.

The journalism and books awards will be announced on April 27, and the restaurant awards will be announced at the gala on May 7.

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