Israeli-American Chef Alon Shaya Wins Top US Culinary Honor
Israeli-born chef and owner of the popular New Orleans restaurant Domenica, Alon Shaya was named the “Best Chef in the southern region” of the US by the James Beard Foundation. Shaya was named the best chef in the southern region this year after being nominated for the award – commonly known in the culinary world as “The Oscars of Food” – for three consecutive years.
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Shaya, who is a former Tel Avivian, attended the Culinary Institute of America and founded Domenica, a highly-popular rustic Italian restaurant located inside New Orleans’ Roosevelt Hotel, together with culinary personality and TV chef John Besh in 2009. Domenica is often featured as the “Best Hotel Restaurant” by Gambit Weekly and Shaya has been named “Chef of the Year” by Eater New Orleans and New Orleans Magazine. Recently, Besh and Shaya opened up Pizza Domenica, a more casual take on their popular restaurant, and very recently, Shaya opened up his own contemporary Israeli restaurant fittingly named “Shaya”.
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According to the restaurant’s website, Shaya spent over a year traveling to Italy to learn the ins and outs of Italian cuisine, though he admits that Israeli food also has a strong influence on his cooking, “spending most of his time in the kitchen with his mother and grandmother.” At Domenica, Shaya serves up Italian dishes with an Israeli twist, like roasted cauliflower with sea salt and whipped feta and red snapper with parsnips, breadcrumbs and dates.
Though the James Beard award is the height of culinary honors, bestowed annually on America’s best chefs at an extravagant black-tie event, other Israeli chefs are turning eyes and stomachs internationally. Just last week The Veuve Clicquot GQ Food and Drink Awards named the Israeli restaurant Palomar as the best in Britain. Located in the hip Soho district of London, Palomar is an international take on Jerusalem’s popular Machne Yehuda restaurant led by Chefs Assaf Granit, Yossi Elad and Uri Navon. Located in the heart of Jerusalem’s open-air market, Machne Yehuda prides itself on eclectically fresh Israeli-Arab cuisine and a spirited, colorful atmosphere.
Photos: Will Blunt/ New Orleans/ Facebook