134: Mike Solomonov & Steve Cook | Two Chefs Who Admit Food Is A Secondary Priority


Untitled design-2Mike Solomonov and Steve Cook are the men behind CooknSolo; a restaurant group which consist of Zahav, Abe Fisher, Dizengoff, Percy Street Barbecue, and four Federal Donuts locations. Mike is a product of the Florida Culinary Institute and Steve was molded from the Wharton School of Business at the University of Pennsylvania and the French Culinary Institute. Their restaurants are getting accolades from all angles, some of which include: two 3 bell and, one 4 bell ratings from the Philadelphia Inquirer (3 bells is excellent and 4 bells is superior), two of their restaurants were listed on Travel and Leisure’s list of 50 best new restaurants in the world and They were featured in The National Eater 38: Where to eat in 2015. Mike and Steve also have their first book Zahav: A World of Israeli Cooking, hitting selves in October of this year. These two chefs say food is secondary in their restaurants; hit play and find out whats primary.

Show notes…






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Success or Leadership Quote/Mantra

  • Mike: “Don’t let the bastards grind you down.”
  • Steve: “Before you decide to jump into an adventure, all you can see is obstacles, but the moment you decide to take that leap of faith, all these things begin to appear to you that you would have otherwise  discovered if you hadn’t just jumped in.”  – Charlie Trotter

It” Factor

  • Steve and Mike combined
    • Being surrounded by great people.
    • Loving what they do.
    • Having a mentality that food is secondary and hospitality, combined with creating great experiences is primary.
    • Devoted to giving time to others.
    • Aligned visions.

Industry Challenge or Failure

  • Mike and Steve were coming up short serving their guests needs at Zahav and because of this, they almost didn’t make it past the first year. Coming up short was mostly attribute to not listening to their guest.
  • The lesson taken from this failure is that is doesn’t matter how great you think your restaurant is; what matters is what your guest think. Listen to your guests and deliver what they want.


Knowledge BOMBS

Fundraising Advice

  • Make sure you have a solid business plan, especially if you’re looking for loans. People will only take you as serious as you take your business plan. Your business plan is a representation of how you operate in general; if you put together a poor business plan you’ll likely put together a poor restaurant.

Employee Hiring

  • Hire attitude over experience. Sometimes too much experience can be a negative thing. You want people who can resonate with the culture you’re creating and promoting at your restaurant.

Employee Retainment

  • Invest in your employees and their loyalty to you will skyrocket.
  • Mike and Steve invested in their employees by taking them on an educational trip to Israel.

Industry Resource

Setting the Table: The Transforming Power of Hospitality in Business

The French Laundry Cookbook

CLICK  HERE to get a FREE audio version of this Book

Advice on Marketing

  • Don’t go chasing trends, be a trend setter by being innovative and chasing your dreams.

Objective Product/Service Review Suggestion

  • Winston Industries CAC503 CVAP Half Size Cook and Hold Oven – 3 Cu. Ft.CVAP technology gives you precise control over both the temperature and the moisture level inside the unit using two dial controls, ensuring that crisp foods stay crisp, moist foods
  • PacoJet–  a revolutionary device that transforms ordinary cooking into culinary magic. 
  • OpenTable- Join the more than 32,000 restaurants which fill seats and manage reservations with OpenTable.
  • Tablet based POS
    • Square– Easy credit card processing and complete solutions for every type of business. Get started free today.
    • Breadcrumbs– Powerful Yet Simple. If you can use an iPad, you can use Breadcrumb. Even sophisticated functions like splitting and transferring checks are easy and intuitive.

Best Business Advice

  • Focus on your customers needs first.
  • Make sure authenticity is always on your mind.

Contact Info

Website: www.cooknsolo.com

Email: info@cooknsolo.com



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