Sephardic Culinary Heritage: Conversation and Reception with Helene Jawhara Piñer and Mike Solomonov

Tuesday, May 7, 2024

Tuesday, May 7
6:00 pm ET Program

Free | Registration Required | Limited Capacity
Live at the Free Library of Philadelphia
1901 Vine Street, Philadelphia, PA

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Celebrate Jewish American Heritage Month at the Free Library of Philadelphia with two renowned culinarians, Dr Helene Jawhara Piñer and Chef Mike Solomonov. In conversation at the Free Library of Philadelphia’s rooftop “Skyline Room”, Piñer and Solomonov will deep dive into the culinary heritage of Sephardim- Jews who lived in Spain until the Spanish Inquisition forced them to flee the kingdom or convert to Catholicism. Drawing in part on Dr Piner’s research in the archival manuscript resources during a recent fellowship at the Schoenberg Institute for Manuscript Studies at Penn Libraries, the conversation will also highlight the importance of these resources for understanding Sephardic heritage. The conversation comes in the lead up to the release of “Matzah and Flour” (September 2024), Dr Piñer’s second cookbook of deeply researched recipes from Sephardic Jewish life from 12th to -17th century in Spain and the diaspora.

The event will be followed by a book signing by Helene Jawhara Piñer – whose first two books will be available for purchase – and a reception with food from “Matzah and Flour” prepared by CookNSolo.

Produced by the Weitzman National Museum of American Jewish History, the Free Library of Philadelphia, and the Schoenberg Institute for Manuscript Studies at the University of Pennsylvania Libraries.

More about the Panelists

Hélène Jawhara Piñer is a PhD in Medieval History and the History of Food. She was awarded the American Sephardi Federation’s Broome and Allen Fellowship in 2018 in recognition of her impressive academic accomplishments and service of the Sephardic community, and the David Gitlitz Emerging Scholar Prize in 2021 by the Society for Crypto Judaic StudiesHer research interests are the medieval culinary history of Spain through inter- and multiculturalism with a special focus on the Jewish culinary heritage written in Arabic. From Yale, Penn, Carnegie Mellon, The Hebrew University, Bar-Ilan University and beyond, Her book “Jews, Food and Spain” was a finalist in the Sephardi culture category at the Natonal Jewish book award in 2023. Piñer has given lectures on subjects such as Reflections on the Jewish heritage according to the Kitab al-tabih, “Jewish cuisine in the oldest cookbook of the Iberian Peninsula”, “Jews and Muslims at the Table” and much more.

Mike Solomonov is a beloved champion of Israel’s extraordinarily diverse culinary landscape, and the chef widely recognized for bringing Israeli cuisine to diners across the U.S., and around the world. He is Chef of the trailblazing restaurant Zahav, and co-owner of Philadelphia’s CookNSolo Restaurants with hospitality entrepreneur, Steve Cook. Solomonov is the co-author of three cookbooks, and the recipient of five James Beard awards including “Outstanding Restaurant” for Zahav, making it the first Israeli-American restaurant to be awarded this great honor. The CookNSolo portfolio also features Federal Donuts, Dizengoff, Goldie, K’Far, Laser Wolf, and Lilah. CookNSolo expanded to Brooklyn bringing grill house sensation Laser Wolf, Israeli bakery & café K’Far, and Jaffa Cocktail & Raw Bar to The Hoxton hotel. Solomonov is a member of the American Culinary Corps and was appointed by President Biden to the President’s Council on Sports, Fitness & Nutrition. Outside of the restaurants, you can often find Mike with Steve at Pho 75 in South Philly, working out the kinks in their Israeli village.