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. Alon and Chef Besh forged a partnership in 2009 to open Domenica, a family-oriented, authentic Italian restaurant in New Orleans Historic Roosevelt Hotel.
Domenica is regularly awarded “Best Hotel Restaurant” by Gambit Weekly and appears as a Top Ten restaurant in the Times-Picayune’s Dining Guide. Food & Wine editor-in-chief Dana Cowin named it 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 Bon Appetit, Food & Wine and on Food52.
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.
In 2012 and 2013, Alon was a finalist for a coveted James Beard Foundation Award, in the “Best Chef – South” category. He is currently a 2014 semifinalist for Best Chef – South, as well.
In preparation to open Domenica, Alon spent a year cooking and traveling in Italy, learning from mentors about pizza and salumi. He has recently traveled to Israel on to prepare meals for groups there alongside Chef Michael Solomonov of Philadelphia, a longtime friend.
Alon will open Pizza Domenica, a casual spin-off of Domenica Restaurant, in uptown New Orleans in the spring of 2014.