Alon Shaya is Executive Chef and Partner of Domenica, Pizza Domenica and Shaya, a modern Israeli restaurant. Alon discovered his passion for cooking at an early age, spending most of his time in the kitchen with his mother and grandmother in Philadelphia, where he was raised. After training at the Culinary Institute of America, Alon interned at the Rio Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas and worked at Antonio’s Ristorante in St. Louis where he began working with his friend and future business partner, Octavio Mantilla.
In 2003, Octavio lured Alon to New Orleans, where he began training under Chef John Besh, serving as the Chef du Cuisine at Besh Steak. In the days after Hurricane Katrina, Alon made the decision move to Italy to continue to explore his passion for Italian cooking. In 2009, Alon, along with the Besh Restaurant Group, formed a partnership to open Domenica, a regional Italian restaurant in the New Orleans Historic Roosevelt Hotel.
Gayot featured Domenica as one of its hottest restaurants for 2014, and the restaurant has been included in prestigious epicurean publications such as Bon Appetit, Food & Wine, and Food52. Alon was named one of the “50 people changing the South” by Southern Living Magazine in 2015. In 2015, Alon was awarded a coveted James Beard Foundation Award, in the “Best Chef – South” category as well as named one of “50 most influential American Jews in America” by The Forward.
After several visits to Israel, Alon was inspired to go back to his roots of cooking and in February of 2015, he opened his namesake Israeli restaurant. Shaya is an innovative restaurant with a warm and welcoming approach to the dining culture inspired by Chef Alon Shaya’s Israeli upbringing and New Orleans’ local ingredients. Esquire named Shaya “The Best New Restaurant in America” in 2015 and was awarded his second James Beard Award in May of 2016 for “Best New Restaurant”.
What is your favorite ingredient and why?
Extra-virgin olive oil. I feel like I use it on almost everything I cook. Even desserts. I love cooking Italian and Israeli food the most, and that ingredient allows me to bridge the two cuisines through an underlying flavor.
Why did you choose Bluestar? What has been your favorite feature so far?
Because I can cook at home with the same power that I use at my restaurants. The BTUs are unstoppable and I have the freedom to create any menu without feeling limited by my cooking power. My favorite feature is being able to use all 8 burners at once when I need to, or add on the grill and griddle when I want to add some more diversity to my menus for friends and family.
What is the most unusual item in your cooking tool box?
I love my immersion blender. It can fit in one of my kitchen drawers and when I want to do some low and slow cooking, like 36 hour braised short ribs, it fits the bill. I then will heat the flat top griddle on the BlueStar stovetop and get a nice dark crust on the outside before I serve.
What is your favorite recipe and why?
I love to make hummus. It is the perfect comfort food to me. It reminds me of my family, my friends and now my restaurant.
As someone who loves to entertain, are there any dishes you are looking forward to recreating on your new BlueStar range at home?
I really look forward to roasting a whole porchetta in the oven just as I do for special events at my restaurant Domenica. I will pair that up with some crispy cast iron seared potatoes on the stovetop with sage and sea salt. Meanwhile, in the smaller oven, I want to bake some blueberry and almond tarts for dessert.
What did you use as inspiration when designing your BlueStar range within your kitchen?
We did lots of white marble and dark blue kitchen cabinets throughout our kitchen with copper light fixtures. We thought the copper finished BlueStar would complement the rest of our kitchen and also act as a centerpiece to see from several other rooms in the house.