Michael Solomonov Reveals That He’s a Recovering Crack Addict

“I felt I was holding back,” the chef tells the New York Times on the eve of the opening of Dizengoff.

Photograph by Mike Persico.

Photograph by Michael Persico

Last July, Michael Solomonov sat down with Philly Mag’s John Marchese and revealed that he’d battled addiction problems:

[Solomonov] told a story of spiraling into alcohol and drug abuse and how people close to him pushed him into detox and rehab. He now has several years of recovery and sobriety behind him. Solomonov later agreed to talk publicly about his addiction, but only in general terms. “At some point in my life, I’ll be very upfront about it if I can find a way to make it helpful,” he told me. “Because of my responsibility to other people in recovery, I need to figure out how I’m going to be more specific and more detailed. But I’m not ready to do that right now.” In a world of graphic addiction memoirs written by teenagers, Solomonov’s reticence is refreshing.

Solomonov has obviously decided it’s now time to come clean about getting clean. In today’s New York Times, he tells columnist Frank Bruni that he was “living a double life” when he opened Zahav in May 2008:

Until now he hasn’t gone into detail about this publicly. But with two new restaurants about to open and a PBS documentary about his culinary love affair with Israel in the works, he found himself haunted by the sense that he wasn’t being wholly honest, wasn’t owning up to how easily all of this might have slipped away, wasn’t sounding the warning and sharing the lessons that he could. “Nobody expects somebody like me to be a recovering crackhead,” he said. “I felt I was holding back.”

Solomonov says his history of addiction began with pot at the University of Vermont, where he attended for three semesters, and worsened after his brother, David, was killed in 2003 while serving in the Israeli army. Solomonov credits his wife, Mary — who became aware of his addiction on a family vacation a few months after the Zahav opening and enlisted his business partner, Steve Cook, in an intervention — with helping him achieve and maintain his sobriety.

Around The Web

Be respectful of our online community and contribute to an engaging conversation. We reserve the right to ban impersonators and remove comments that contain personal attacks, threats, or profanity, or are flat-out offensive. By posting here, you are permitting Philadelphia magazine and Metro Corp. to edit and republish your comment in all media.

  • Jedi

    who cares? why is this even being published? haha

    • Obi-Wan

      Because it helps those that are struggling with addiction. To them, Michaels story is a story of home.

      Granted, this story reads more like a teaser to something larger. But it is insightful.

  • karen steel

    it’s so good that he had family money to bail him out of his BS. That’s pretty much the only difference between him and a homeless guy and I hope he remembers that every day.

    • owens4414

      Are you kidding me? The vast majority of homeless suffer from major psychiatric disorders like schizophrenia first and drug/alcohol addiction second.

      • karen steel

        Oh, right, and only black people in bad neighborhoods smoke pot, that’s why they go to jail and Wharton kids don’t. I don’t know Solomonov, but there are about a bajillion line cooks with drug problems, and when their problems get too bad, they miss work and get fired. They don’t get whisked off to a pricey rehab by their investors and then continue opening million dollar restaurants – that’s a privilege reserved for those with access to lots o’capital.

    • JB

      Scorned lover?

  • Kolin

    Wow what a bunch of cynical ass holes. Someone is giving their whole self and you are all just trying to kick them not knowing they are no longer down. Karma

  • Alimentarian

    I’ve long been astonished by Zahav, and never more than after reading this article. How did/does he do it? I guess many geniuses battle demons, and he is a genius. Godspeed.

  • ADDICTION: NO MORE SHAME. Visit http://www.parentalcrackheads.com for more info. Empowering children of drug addicted parents. This could be you. Never say NEVER.
    FB/IG: parentalcrackheads Twitter: @crackbabiesrus

  • I, for one, am SHOCKED, shocked, I say, that someone in the service industry (especially back of house) has struggled with a drug problem! SCANDALOUS!

  • Really

    You lost when me you said it began with pot. Weed doesn’t make you do crack.

    • Lorraine

      I don’t think they were saying that it was causal. they could have said it began with alcohol. that does not mean it caused his crack addiction.

  • LeeAnne

    Good people can only hope to leave the world a better place when they pass on. I believe this man doing just that–not because he’s a recovering addict, but because he’s a great cook and mentor. His food makes people happy. He trains and coaches other cooks. His work employs people who are happy to work for him and learn from him. Anyone (some of the commenters) assuming negative things about him and his family, their financial situation, or mocking him based on choices he’s trying to recover from shows your true colors to be much, much darker than his past.

  • I just care if his hummus and flatbread is any good. Why people feel compelled to publicly air their past problems and transgressions is beyond me. Folks blather on to strangers at parties, for goodness sakes. Can’t anybody keep a secret or at least keep it to themselves?

  • Patches

    FIGDISH vs JARDAM… who wins?