By: Kate Kolenda, The Daily Meal
How Shaya, which serves Israeli food, was born down on the bayou in New Orleansis a story indeed.
James Beard award-winning chef Alon Shaya immigrated to Philadelphia from Israel with his family at age four, but he maintained a connection to the country he barely remembered through the hummus, tabbouleh, and other Middle Eastern staples the matriarchs of his family continued to cook. After training at the Culinary Institute of America as an adult, he held the title of chef du cuisine at Besh Steak, working closely with acclaimed New Orleans-based chef John Besh.
Shaya served signature Creole soul food to Katrina relief workers after the hurricane hit New Orleans in 2005. In 2011, Shaya and Besh — along with Shaya’s future wife — visited Israel to cook kosher New Orleans fare for Israeli soldiers, returning to America with the concept of a New Orleans-based Israeli restaurant already percolating in their minds.