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, Alon spent most of his time in the kitchen with his mother and grandmother in Philadelphia where he grew up. After training at the Culinary Institute of America, Alon interned at the Rio Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas. In 2001 Alon came to New Orleans and began working at local restaurants where he shared his deep love and appreciation for food and the singular way restaurants anchor their communities.
In 2017, Alon and his wife Emily founded Pomegranate Hospitality, with a mission to create a space where meaningful, lasting relationships are created, community engagement prospers, cultural differences are celebrated, and personal and professional growth of the team are weighed with equal measure.
In 2018, Pomegranate Hospitality opened two new restaurants: Saba (meaning grandpa) in New Orleans and Safta (meaning grandma) in Denver. Both restaurants focus on a journey through food and beverage which pays homage to the culinary landscape of Israel.
In 2020, the group partnered with Four Seasons Hotel New Orleans to introduce Miss River and Chandelier Bar to the city. Miss River is Alon’s love letter to Louisiana and was named one of Esquire’s “Best New Restaurants in America.” Chandelier Bar celebrates the rich history of New Orleans cocktail culture alongside caviar service, small plates, and snacks that pay tribute to the city chef calls home.
Alon, a multiple James Beard Foundation award-winner, was named "Best Chef, South" in 2015, and his restaurant won "Best New Restaurant" the following year. He was named one of the "50 People Who Are Changing the South" by Southern Living and one of the "50 Most Influential Jews in America" by The Forward.
Home cooks can also check out Alon's cookbook titled “Shaya: An Odyssey of Food, My Journey Back to Israel.” Part memoir and part cookbook, Shaya shares Alon’s deeply personal journey of survival and discovery, exploring the evolution of a cuisine and the transformative power and magic of food and cooking.