For Alon Shaya, a passion for Middle Eastern food may have started in his native Israel, but it flowered in New Orleans. As a child, Shaya spent most of his time in the kitchen with his mother and grandmother in Philadelphia were he grew up. After training at the Culinary Institute of America, Shaya interned at the Rio Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas. In 2001 Shaya met Octavio Mantilla, co-owner of Besh Restaurant Group, who lured him to New Orleans.
As Chef de Cuisine at Besh Steak in Harrah's Casino, New Orleans, Shaya worked closely with Chef John Besh. In 2009 Shaya and Besh opened Domenica, a family-oriented, rustic Italian restaurant in the historic Roosevelt Hotel. Their next collaboration was 2015’s Shaya, serving the chef’s beloved Israeli food. In 2016 Shaya was named the country’s best new restaurant by the James Beard Foundation.
Food & Wine editor-in-chief Dana Cowin named Domenica as one of her top restaurants of 2012. In 2012, 2013 and 2014, Shaya was a finalist for a coveted James Beard Foundation Award, in the “Best Chef – South” category. In 2010, Esquire Magazine named him one of four Chefs to Watch, and Shaya was named “Chef of the Year” by Eater New Orleans. New Orleans Magazine honored him as “Chef of the Year” in 2012.
Although he recently split with the Besh Restaurant Group, Chef Alon is just getting started, and New Orleans awaits his future ventures with eager anticipation.