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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. 

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 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.  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 was named one of the “50 people changing the South” by Southern Living Magazine in 2015. In 2015, Alon was awarded a coveted James Beard Foundation Award, in the “Best Chef – South” category. Also in 2015, Alon was named one of “50 most influential American Jews in America” by The Forward.

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. 

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.

Alon splits his time between Domenica, PIZZA domenica, and Shaya.

 
 

 

 

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Alon Shaya first met Donna Barnett as a student in her high school economics class.  By the time he met Donna, he already loved to cook, but directed all of his energy into getting into trouble.  In this troubled student that other teachers had given up on, Donna saw potential.  She took him under her wing and was able to get him to channel that energy to be the best culinary student he could be.  With her no nonsense approach, she inspired him to pursue his passion for cooking at a professional level- even helping him land his first dishwashing job in a kitchen, and eventually overseeing the process of attaining scholarships and grants to allow him to afford  the tuition to the Culinary Institute of America in hopes that he would one day become a chef. Because of her mentorship, Alon has looked up to her as a mother and in turn spent much of his career devoted to youth mentorship programs in New Orleans. Donna has recently retired from 25 years of teaching and mentoring over 6000 students in her classroom.They have now partnered together to lend assistance to underdeveloped culinary arts programs in the city’s schools.Through the efforts of the initiative, we will give technical, monetary, and practical assistance to underdeveloped high school culinary arts programs.

We are kick starting our initiative through an exciting partnership with Edna Karr High School.  We are leading fundraising efforts for kitchen equipment for Edna Karr High School’s newly established culinary arts program.  They are committed to meeting the overwhelming interest from their students in the growing food and hospitality industry.  Donna is working with the school to develop a curriculum that focuses on hands on kitchen skills.  Our goal is to outfit their classroom with the equipment and utensils necessary to have a successful and meaningful learning experience.

We need your help! Please visit our “Shaya Barnett” Amazon WishList under Edna Karr Initiative and consider contributing anything from a rubber spatula to a standing mixer. This will allow the opportunity for these students to get their hands dirty and experience the real world of the culinary community. Thank you for doing your part, to help someone find their passion and reach their potential.

 

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