Restaurateur Steve Cook of CookNSolo - Biography

Philadelphia, PA

September 2016

Trading the heat of Wall Street for the heat of the kitchen, investment banker turned chef Steve Cook returned to his native Philadelphia to pursue his love of food. With degrees from the Wharton School of Business at the University of Pennsylvania and the French Culinary Institute (now the International Culinary Center) in New York City, his education and drive coalesced to make him a heavyweight among Philadelphia entrepreneurs and restaurateurs.

In 2005, as chef-owner of Marigold Kitchen, Cook met his business partner Michael Solomonov. Together they opened Zahav in 2008. The restaurant earned “4 bells” in its first year from Philadelphia Inquirer critic Craig La Ban. At Zahav, Cook and Solomonov served Israeli cuisine of salatim and mezze, and their collaboration also merged with the restaurant movement for small plates.

Recognition and awards have followed: in 2012 Food & Wine named Cook and Solomonov “Empire Builders.” And with their restaurant group, CookNSolo, they have built an empire spanning cuisines and now cities. There’s Percy Street Barbecue; fried chicken and doughnut concept Federal Donuts; Abe Fisher, serving small plates of the Jewish diaspora; and Dizengoff, a hummusiya in Philly and in New York’s Chelsea Market. Their first book, Zahav: A World of Israeli Cooking won the coveted James Beard Award for “Best International Cookbook” in 2016. In partnership with Broad Street Ministries, Cook also helped develop soon-to-launch, nonprofit Rooster Soup Company.