Hot Chef: Michael Solomonov’s got the whole package

To say that you’ve been living under a rock if you haven’t yet heard of Federal Donuts would be an understatement. By now, thanks to a flurry of national press, even your West Coast great aunt knows about their menu of fancy donuts, fried chicken and cowboy-strength coffee. Now that their new Center City location is up and running, we caught up with one of the brains behind the now classic fried combo, Michael Solomonov.

Why do you think Federal Donuts has taken off?

I’m not sure. Everybody likes chicken and donuts, especially awesome donuts. I think the style of fried chicken that we do is unique to Philly. And the coffee is utterly specific. No cappuccinos here, just coffee in a cup. It’s the attention to detail that makes it special.

Your donuts are one of the reasons that named Philly an exciting food town. Who else is helping?

People get pissed off about BYOB places because they can pop up so quickly. I think the BYOB fuels a lot of food scene, allows people to open up a restaurant quickly. There’s a lot of talent coming from a lot of young people.

Federal Donuts closes early — where are you going after work?

Usually either Zahav or Tai Lake. Everyone here goes to the Khyber, too.

Now that you’ve opened the new Federal Donuts location, what’s next? Please say delivery!

Right now we’re just busy trying to stay focused on making things great and keeping them great.

Three more surprisingly sweet combos

Chicken and donuts, you have company:

1. Earl Grey and Sriracha

Little Baby’s Ice Cream flirts with the classics (birch beer vanilla, never change), but it’s the more unexpected combos that have earned them a foodie following. The Earl Grey Sriracha is a surprising stand-out in a freezer case that also includes cantaloupe creamsicle, balsamic banana and cardamom caramel.

2. Pop Rocks and Champagne

We don’t know the logic behind Raven Lounge’s irresistible Champagne and Pop Rocks cocktail, but we do like the sound of candy exploding in bubbly. As for the tingling in your nose, well, that’s an acquired taste.

3. Old Bay and Cinnamon

For their sweet potato fries, Chickie’s & Pete’s swaps out their trademark melted American cheese dip for a side of warm cinnamon maple sauce.

Monica Weymouth

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