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.

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