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 came to New Orleans and got his start working at restaurants like Domenica and finally, his own namesake, Shaya, where legendary Israeli food is served. In 2016 Shaya was named the country’s best new restaurant by the James Beard Foundation.
Alon Shaya has been honored with many accolades, including nominations for James Beard Foundation Awards, Esquire Magazine’s “Chef to Watch,” Eater New Orleans’ “Chef of the Year” and more.
Shaya recently split from Besh Restaurant Group and began his own highly anticipated endeavor, Pomegranate Hospitality, with Zachary Engel, who cooked with Shaya at both Shaya and Domenica. Pomegranate Hospitality’s mission is to nurture a safe workspace for all employees, promote equality, and cook and serve delicious cuisine. Catering is available from Pomegranate Hospitality. Shaya and Engel opened the highly popular restaurant, Saba, in the spring of 2018. In addition to Saba, Shaya also opened Safta in Denver.
Home cooks can also check out Shaya’s cookbook titled “Shaya: An Odyssey of Food, My Journey Back to Israel.”