Star chefs John Besh and Alon Shaya are parting ways after a years-long partnership at three New Orleans restaurants: Shaya, Domenica, and Pizza Domenica. According to Forbes, the dispute involves a partnership agreement between the Besh Restaurant Group and chef Shaya. On Sept. 18, Shaya told NOLA.com, “We are in negotiations to purchase Shaya restaurant from the Besh Restaurant Group (BRG). And I hope that a deal can be done soon.”
A BRG spokesperson confirmed that Shaya and the company are “parting ways.” Domenica and Pizza Domenica are not part of the negotiation, though the chef claims to have an ownership stake in both eateries.
Shaya will be replaced as executive chef at all three restaurants. Two of his chefs de cuisine — Zachary Engel and Michael Wilson — have been promoted to replace the renowned cook.
Engel will take over as executive chef of Shaya Restaurant, which is known for its premier Israeli cuisine. Earlier this year, Engel was named one of Forbes’ 30-under-30 in food and beverage in addition to winning the 2016 James Beard Award as rising star chef.
Wilson will oversee operations as executive chef at Domenica, a casual Italian spot downtown, and Pizza Domenica, an upscale eatery uptown. Shaya says both Engel and Wilson have been running the kitchens “for several years now and have been doing amazing work. I am super proud of them as I always have been.”
When news of the co-owners parting hit Twitter, fans were not happy. “Not our beloved Shaya!!” wrote Lauren Ashley Gorman.
“Alon Shaya is out as executive chef at Shaya and I’m NOT WELL,” said Madeleine Ricks. “Besh and Shaya can’t break up. Don’t do this to my heart… and stomach.”
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