Apparently the going price for a world-class chef is about $150. That’s how much one lucky bidder paid for Michael Solomonov this week on eBay. Yeah, the same Michael Solomonov who co-owns Zahav, Xochitl, and Percy Street BBQ and is still the only chef in Philly to challenge Iron Chef Garces in Kitchen Stadium! To be honest, it was actually $155.50 and it’s really just two one-on-one hours with him that were auctioned off. And it’s all for a good cause. Solomonov, who’s been supporting various programs to employ the city’s young people and provide them with real professional working experience for several years, allowed himself to be auctioned off to help raise money and awareness for the Philadelphia Youth Network’s WorkReady summer program. “Actually one of our current employees came from one of these internship programs,” Solomonov told Grub Street. “It’s pretty cool. I think working in restaurants can be really helpful for kids to develop self-discipline.”
“I was a super undisciplined crazy kid with a little bit of direction,” Solomonov said. “But, you know, my work ethic was not exactly that important to me.” He says that working in restaurants helped him find focus and develop a sense of pride in his work.
The money raised from the auction will help Philadelphia Youth Network continue placing students in similar shadowing and mentoring programs. Last year, the generous support from local businesses, foundations and federal stimulus funding helped the organization place more than 11,000 young people in summer jobs. Despite that record number, there were still 10,000 more students who wanted to work but couldn’t because there weren’t enough funded positions available. Right now there are as many as 5,500 jobs threatened by lack of funding. And that’s why the Save Summer Jobs campaign, which was responsible for auctioning off Solomonov on eBay, was created. For more about the program, visit the website www.savesummerjobs.org.