Alon Shaya is Executive Chef and Partner of Domenica, its more casual sister restaurant, PIZZA Domenica and Shaya, a modern Israeli restaurant.
Alon discovered his passion for cooking at an early age, spending most of his time in the kitchen with his mother and grandmother in Philadelphia where he was raised. After training at the Culinary Institute of America, Alon interned at the Rio Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas. At the time he was too young to gamble but ready to take on the casino kitchens. In 2001, Alon 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, Alon worked closely with Chef John Besh. In 2009 Alon and Chef Besh forged a partnership to open Domenica, an authentic Italian restaurant in New Orleans Historic Roosevelt Hotel. In preparation to open Domenica, Alon spent a year cooking and traveling in Italy, learning from mentors about pizza, salumi and traditional Italian preparations.
Food & Wine editor-in-chief Dana Cowin named Domenica one of her top restaurants of 2012. Gayot featured Domenica as one of its hottest restaurants for 2014, and the restaurant's dishes have been included in prestigious epicurean publications such as Bon Appetit, Food & Wine and on Food52. Domenica is regularly awarded "Best Hotel Restaurant" by Gambit Weekly and appears as a Top Ten restaurant in the Times-Picayune's Dining Guide.
In 2015, Alon was awarded a coveted James Beard Foundation Award, in the "Best Chef South" category. In 2010, Esquire Magazine named Alon one of four Chefs to Watch, and he was also named "Chef of the Year" by Eater New Orleans. New Orleans Magazine honored him as "Chef of the Year" in 2012.
Alon opened Pizza Domenica, a casual spin-off of Domenica, in uptown New Orleans in the spring of 2014.
A little less than a year later, in February of 2015, he opened his namesake Israeli restaurant. Shaya is an innovative restaurant with a warm and welcoming approach to the dining culture inspired by Chef Alon Shaya's Israeli upbringing and New Orleans' local ingredients.
Alon works closely with the John Besh Foundation in several ways: by mentoring recipients of the Chef's Move! scholarship program, working with farmers who have received micro-loans under the Milk Money program, and helping to identify candidates who could benefit from these culinary scholarships and micro-loans in the New Orleans community.
Learn More About Alon Shaya
What is your earliest memory involving food or wine?
When I was four years old my grandfather took me out for ice cream in Jaffa, Israel. It was unforgettable.
If you've participated in the Festival before, what is your favorite SOBEWFF memory to date?
Playing beach volleyball with the Sports Illustrated supermodels!
If you could cook with anyone in the world, who would it be?
With my grandmother Matilda one last time.
I never leave home without my:
my iPhone, sadly addicted.