Alon Shaya really loves food. He loves cooking it, being around it, learning about it, and teaching others about it. Born in Israel and raised on cheesesteaks in Philadelphia, Alon now calls New Orleans his home. The three celebrated restaurants he started and helmed as executive chef/partner - Domenica, Pizza Domenica, and Shaya - all reflect his culinary journey and resounding love of Israeli and Italian cuisine.
In 2017, Alon formed Pomegranate Hospitality to create a space where meaningful, lasting relationships are created, community engagement prospers, and cultural differences are celebrated. Pomegranate Hospitality hopes to foster opportunities for colleagues, partners and friends in a comfortable environment, helping all involved to achieve their personal and professional goals.
In 2016, Alon joined forces with Donna Barnett, his high school home economics teacher, to start the Shaya Barnett Foundation, committed to providing culinary education and resources to high school students. Tapping into the philanthropic community in New Orleans and beyond, Alon cooks to raise money for No Kid Hungry, Alex's Lemonade Stand, and DC Central Kitchen/Martha's Table. He is a recipient of the "Youth Advocate Award" from Liberty's Kitchen, and was honored by InspireNOLA Schools for his work with Edna Karr Charter High School.
In March 2018, Alon published his debut cookbook, "Shaya: An Odyssey of Food, My Journey Back to Israel" (Knopf). Part memoir and part cookbook, Alon shares his deeply personal journey of survival and discovery, exploring the evolution of a cuisine and the transformative power and magic of food and cooking. Readers learn the secret to making Shaya's acclaimed pita bread while hearing the food stories that have shaped his life.
Alon has been nominated for five James Beard Awards. He has been named "Best Chef, South" while at Domenica in 2015, and Shaya won "Best New Restaurant" in 2016. He was named one of the "50 People Who Are Changing the South" by Southern Living magazine in 2015, and one of the "50 Most Influential Jews in America" by The Forward.
Alon, his wife Emily, and their two dogs Henry and Ceci, live in New Orleans. On their days off, they enjoying traveling for new food experiences, playing tennis, and fly fishing.
Director of New Projects
Emily Shaya brings her background in entrepreneurship, real estate development, and finance to the Pomegranate Hospitality team. As director of New Projects, Emily seeks out and vets potential opportunities, works with the Pomegranate team to develop the restaurant concept from inception through the opening, and stabilized operations. Emily is a native of Calhoun, Georgia and a lover of the finest fruit, the tomato, although she shares Chef Alon's passion for Israeli and Italian food. She began her time in New Orleans in the early 2000's when she attended Tulane University, where she later earned her MBA with a specialization in entrepreneurship.
Director of People & Culture
Before joining the team as Director of People & Culture, Suzi Darré oversaw the Human Resources departments of several high profile restaurants and hotel groups across the country. Born in the Philippines and raised in Miami, she holds an undergraduate degree in Public Relations from The University of Florida and her Masters in Hospitality Industry Studies from New York University. Her passion for hospitality began at an early age; she was intrigued by how food, travel, and hotels created memories and brought people together. Suzi originally thought her calling was in operations, but found a vested interest in the people behind the service experience in hospitality. She has been the Director of Human Resources for hotel properties The Carlyle, The Surrey, and The James in New York City, and most recently Cavallo Point, A Lodge at the Golden Gate in Sausalito, CA. In her free time, she loves to travel and eat with her husband Kurt and son Charlie. Suzi is excited to help build the foundation for Pomegranate Hospitality and ensure a safe and supportive space for all community members.
Sean Courtney joins the Pomegranate Hospitality team from a long career in the culinary world. He is a 2012 graduate of University of Louisiana at Lafayette with a degree in hospitality management and business. After college, Sean was the food & beverage director at Le Triomphe Country Club in Lafayette before moving to New Orleans in 2014 to further pursue a career in the hospitality industry. He has worked on the opening teams of both Pizza Domenica and Shaya Restaurant, acting most recently as the General Manager of Shaya. He joins the team as the Operations Director, focusing on team growth and excellent service. Sean loves living in the Irish Channel, favorite spots range from Pete’s out in the Cold to Bouligny Tavern.
Meredith has found her forever home here in New Orleans- a city which indulges her love of bringing people together over a good meal. A 2011 graduate of Tulane University and native of Baltimore, Maryland, Meredith has a professional background in restaurant management & chef assistance. She has been working with Alon since 2015, most recently focusing her efforts on his cookbook and the development of the Shaya Barnett Foundation. When she's not spending the afternoon eating her way across the city, you can find her grooving to all of the live music New Orleans has to offer, or hanging out in the yard with her pups & plants.