Chefs Alon Shaya and John Besh are “parting ways” at Shaya, a spokesperson for the Besh Restaurant Group confirmed Tuesday.
The news was first reported in an article by NOLA.com, which stated that Shaya is in negotiations to purchase the Uptown Israeli restaurant bearing his name from the restaurant group.
[jump] A spokesperson for the Besh Restaurant Group confirmed to Gambit that “the Group and Alon are parting ways,” and that negotiations regarding the sale of the Magazine Street restaurant are underway. The spokesperson said Domenica and Pizza Domenica, of which Besh is also a co-owner of, are not part of the negotiation.
On Wednesday, the same rep confirmed that Shaya had been replaced as executive chef of Shaya, Domenica and Pizza Domenica. Zachary Engel, who earlier this year won the James Beard Foundation's Rising Star Chef of the Year award, has been promoted to the executive chef position at Shaya. Michael Wilson is now the executive chef at Domenica and Pizza Domenica.
The partnership began in 2005, when Shaya began working for the group at Besh Steak in Harrah’s Casino on Canal Street.
The chefs went on to open Italian restaurants Domenica and Pizza Domenica together, both of which garnered accolades and became beacons for modern Italian cooking in the city.
In 2015, Shaya snagged the coveted Best Chef: South award from the James Beard Foundation. The following year, his eponymous restaurant - a homage to his Israeli heritage - was named the best new restaurant in the country by the foundation.
*Editor's note: This story has been updated to include news on the promotions of Zachary Engel and Michael Wilson.