How Chef Michael Solomonov Runs Philadelphia Restaurant Zahav

At Philadelphia’s Zahav, chef and owner Michael Solomonov and co-chef Beau Friedman have generated so much acclaim through dishes like fluke kubbeh niyeh, hummus tehina, and their signature pomegranate lamb shoulder, that reservations are booked out for months.

Something Solomonov and Friedman take pride in is putting Israeli twists on classic dishes, like egg-in-the-hole using challah bread.

“I never thought that I would make challah and that would be on the menu,” says Solomonov. “But I don’t know, what’s better than fresh challah?”

The dish is made by sous chef Christine Fariss, who begins by weighing out each dough ball, and letting them proof after they’re weighed. Once proofed, the dough is braided. Fariss likes to use cold dough in this process because warm dough becomes too pliable and may break.

“So you want to be stretching the dough each time you’re pulling it,” explains Fariss. “And starting in the middle gives it that beautiful football shape.”

Fariss twists the braid at the end which binds it all together. From there, the challah dough will be proofed once more until it’s doubled in size, and then it’s baked.

“I grew up in an Ashkenazi Jewish household, so it’s super comforting to see the challah being braided, and smell it come out of the oven,” Friedman remarks.

Once the bread is ready, a hole is cut in the middle; an egg is cracked in the hole while the bread is on the pan. It’s then cooked to the point where the egg yolk is still runny and is then topped with smoked sable, pickled green garlic, everything spice, and dried lemon.

“Sable, challah, and eggs is a very important trinity in our culture,” says Solomonov.

Go watch the full YouTube video to see how Solomonov and the rest of his team at Zahav make more acclaimed dishes.