My dinner with America's best chef
At the South Beach Wine & Food Festival, James Beard Award-winning chef Michael Solomonov dishes on glittery donuts, breakdancing and Martha Stewart.
The South Beach Wine & Food Festival (SOBEWFF) is one of the most highly anticipated culinary events of the year. Top chef and industry talent travel to Miami from all over the country to attend, and aside from the fact that the festival draws in more than 30,000 people, you still run a very good chance of running into one of your favorite chefs at the local hotel bar.
At this year's event, we attended the Taste of Israel dinner party hosted by Michael Solomonov, a James Beard Award-winning chef, and the proprietor of several popular restaurants, including Zahav, Federal Donuts, Dizengoff and the new Rooster Soup Co.
Upon arrival, we were greeted with wine, a wall of donuts, and 1990s hip-hop music. As we took a “Purple Rain” donut (vanilla lavender with edible glitter) off the wall, we sipped some wine and stepped out onto the deck, where the scent of grilled lamb and smoked meat pulled us in even further.
We caught up with Chef Solomonov for some behind-the-scenes tidbits about the event.
Was this your first time hosting your own event at the SOBEWFF?
We have been lucky enough to be out here for the past five years, but this was the first year [they were] crazy enough to let us program our own party.
What was your experience with it?
It was incredible. The energy of the dancers, supremely cool music and, of course, the unbelievable food made it very dope.
If you had to do it all over again, what would you do differently?
We'd invite more people!
Why did you choose that space at Eighty Seven Park? Was it chosen for you?
It was a very cool choice, a bit removed from the other events. We chose Renzo Piano's space because it's beautiful and allowed for us to grill lamb on the fire in the ocean breeze like a cookout in Israel.
Was there a significance to the breakdancers? Or just for fun entertainment?
It was a '90s house party! So breakdancers are key. The DJ is the brother of my best friend from boarding school in Israel. We used to spend evenings on a farm listening to '90s hip hop in real time. It was right before “The Score” by the Fugees came out if that gives you greater context.
What was your favorite dish during The Taste of Israel dinner party?
Chef Yehuda of Abe Fisher’s scene-stealing Montreal smoked short ribs.
The donut wall was amazing! Which was your favorite?
My favorite donut is the Grapefruit Brûlée, but my favorite part of the wall was watching people eat them off of sticks.
Who came up with the savory rugelach from Abe Fisher? That was delicious!
Steve and I thought of it on an Amtrak ride from New York to Philadelphia. The savory rugelach is reminiscent of when I was once making biscotti for Marc Vetri and accidentally used salt instead of sugar. We wound up with savory biscotti and used it as a delicious appetizer.
Which event would you want to participate in next year that you didn't get to this year? And what would you make?
I would love to host a deli party with Zak the Baker and Abe Fisher.
If you could put together your ideal/fantasy dinner party or event for the festival, what would it be like? Who would it include?
I picture a yacht party with wake boarding and water sports, and of note, Martha Stewart and I on tandem water skis.
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