Alon Shaya is Executive Chef and Partner of Domenica, 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. There, he worked under great chefs such as Jean-Louis Palladin, a pioneer of fine French cooking in America. During this time Alon gained a passion for Italian cooking, which drew him to St. Louis to open Antonio’s Ristorante where he began working with his friend and future business partner, Octavio Mantilla.
In 2003, Octavio lured Alon to New Orleans, where he began training under Chef John Besh, serving as the Chef du Cuisine at Besh Steak. In the days after Hurricane Katrina, Alon made the decision move to Italy to continue to explore his passion for Italian cooking. In 2009, Alon, along with the Besh Restaurant Group, formed a partnership to open Domenica, a regional Italian restaurant in the New Orleans Historic Roosevelt Hotel. Here, he was able to bring hand rolled pastas, made from scratch salumi, and wood- fired pizzas to downtown New Orleans.
Dana Cowin named Domenica one of her top restaurants of 2012 for Food & Wine. Gayot featured Domenica as one of its hottest restaurants for 2014, and the restaurant has been included in prestigious epicurean publications such as Bon Appetit, Food & Wine, and Food52. Domenica regularly appears as a Top Ten restaurant in the Times-Picayune’s Dining Guide, and was named as one of “the 20 Best Italian Restaurants in America” by Time Out. 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. In 2015, Alon was awarded a coveted James Beard Foundation Award, for “Best Chef – South.” That same year, Alon was named one of the “50 people changing the South” by Southern Living, as well as one of “50 most influential American Jews in America” by The Forward. He was also awarded “Chef of the Year” by New Orleans Magazine and named one of the “15 Top Chefs of 2015” by The Daily Meal. Alon was also spotlighted in Tasting Table’s list of “The Chefs Who Ruled the Kitchen in 2015.”
With the growing popularity of Domenica, Alon opened Pizza Domenica, a casual spin-off, in uptown New Orleans in the spring of 2014. After several visits to Israel, Alon was inspired to go back to his roots of cooking and 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. Esquire named Shaya “The Best New Restaurant in America” in 2015. Additionally, Bon Appetit featured Shaya in its list of the “50 Best New Restaurants in the U.S.” and Southern Living included the restaurant in its list of “The South’s Best Restaurants 2015.” That same year, Shaya earned a place in both Gear Patrol’s and Thrillist’s national lists of the “Best New Restaurants in America.” In 2016, Shaya won the James Beard Foundation Award for “Best New Restaurant” and GQ named Shaya among their “12 Best New Restaurants of 2016.” Additionally, Food & Wine included Shaya in its coveted “2016 Restaurants of the Year” list.
Alon works closely with the Crescent City Farmers Market, sitting on the advisory board to support local farmers. He enjoys giving back to communities close to him by cooking latkes each year to bring to Temple Sinai’s Hanukkah Bazaar and spending time in local public schools cooking with students to teach them healthy alternatives in eating. Alon was appointed to the board of the Odyssey House of Louisiana, which helps those struggling with substance abuse in New Orleans. Alon, his wife Emily, and their two dogs Ceci and Henry, haven fallen in love with New Orleans culture, food and music. When he’s not in the kitchen, you can find him dodging potholes on his Vepsa en route to the farmers market, grooving to live music at a festival, or fishing and hunting on the bayou.