Within days of announcing the launch of his own restaurant group, Pomegranate Hospitality, Alon Shaya’s team is already pulling in big players.
On Tuesday, the group announced that chef Zachary Engel and Shaya general manager Sean Courtney are joining the newly formed company.
[jump] Engel, who was tapped to helm Shaya’s kitchen as executive chef after Alon Shaya and John Besh publicly parted ways in the restaurant, won the Rising Star Chef Of the Year award at the James Beard Foundation’s annual awards gala earlier this year.
According to a Facebook post made on Pomegranate Hospitality’s website, Engel will be the company’s new Culinary Director while Courtney will be the Operations Director. It was not immediately clear who will step into Engel and Courtney’s positions at the Uptown restaurant, and a spokesperson for the Besh Restaurant Group did not immediately return an email for comment.
News of the new company’s launch was first reported by The New Orleans Advocate last week, a little more than three weeks after news broke of the split between the two chefs. Shaya, whose eponymous modern Israeli restaurant has garnered accolades and awards since opening in 2015, is in negotiations to purchase the restaurant, according to a Besh Restaurant Group spokesperson, No word on where that stands, but according to a post from Shaya on the new company’s website, those plans are still in the works.
“Though I am sadly no longer involved in the operations of the restaurants that I have labored in and loved so dearly for so long, my heart is still there, especially with the amazing people who work so hard to make them great,” Shaya wrote. “They have made my life better. Though I remain fully committed to the possibility of acquiring Shaya restaurant in the near future, I look forward to turning the page in my next chapter here in New Orleans and beyond.”
Shaya’s partnership with Besh began in 2005. The pair went on to open Italian restaurants Domenica and Pizza Domenica together, where Shaya was the executive chef and a partner in the business. At the time of the split, a Besh spokesperson confirmed that Michael Wilson had been promoted to executive chef at both Italian restaurants.