New Orleans, LA
Alon Shaya is executive chef and partner of Domenica and its more casual sister restaurant, Pizza Domenica.
As a boy in Philadelphia, Alon Shaya spent most of his time in the kitchen with his mother and grandmother, which instilled in him a passion for cooking. After training at the Culinary Institute of America, Alon interned at the Rio Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas – 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, a family-oriented, authentic Italian restaurant in New Orleans Historic Roosevelt Hotel.
Food & Wine editor-in-chief Dana Cowin named Domenica as one of her top restaurants of 2012. Gayot featured the Domenica as one of its hottest restaurants for 2014, and the restaurant’s dishes have recently 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 2012, 2013 and 2014, Alon was a finalist for a coveted James Beard Foundation Award, in the “Best Chef – South” category. In 2010, Esquire Magazine named Shaya 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.
Shaya is an innovative restaurant with a warm and welcoming approach to the dining culture inspired by Chef Alon Shaya’s Israeli upbringing. Chef Alon sees modern Israeli food as a grand mosaic, drawing influence from North Africa, the Middle East, Eastern Europe, Turkey and Greece. The food of Alon’s heritage represents a country rich in diversity of cuisine and culture, inspired by years of tradition while also looking to its contemporary future. The menu at Shaya reflects the ongoing evolution of Israeli food, while celebrating the abundance of Louisiana, and Alon’s close relationships with local farmers, fostered by his ongoing work with the Crescent City Farmer’s Market. In keeping with the the ethos of all of the Besh restaurants, Shaya uses seasonal, responsibly- and locally-sourced ingredients.
Similar to Alon’s other establishments in New Orleans, the wood-fire oven is central to both the menu and the dining experience, starting with the incredible homemade, wood-fired pita. To create the menu, Alon looked to his past (many recipes are those that he cooked with his grandmother), and his recent travels; in 2014, he spent time in Israel immersing himself in the vibrant culture and cuisine of his homeland. Many of the dishes on the diverse menu are meant to be shared.