Chef Alon Shaya Chef Alon Shaya Chef Alon Shaya (Photo: The Besh Restaurant Group)

Top New Orleans chef continues to rake in awards

Mediterranean-themed Shaya named one of the best restaurants in U.S. by Food & Wine.

Alon Shaya is having the kind of year most people in the food industry can only dream about.

The Israeli-born, New Orleans-based chef continues to rack up accolades for his restaurant Shaya, most recently being named one of 10 "Restaurants of the Year" in the U.S. by Food & Wine magazine.

Popular menu items at the Shaya restaurant include avocado toast, hummus, lamb ragu and Louisiana shrimp shakshouka.Popular menu items at Shaya include avocado toast, hummus, lamb ragu and Louisiana shrimp shakshouka. (Photo: Stephen Young)

"The pita that he constantly pulls from the oven is ultra-tender and pillowy, and the scent perfumes the room (Shaya might be the country’s best-smelling restaurant)," wrote the magazine.

"That bread is terrific for scooping up the supercreamy hummus with toppings such as crispy fried cauliflower. There are also monumental dishes like short rib couscous, but to go silverware-free, stick with the pita and hummus."

Shaya's innovative and charming modern Israeli cuisine pairs Mediterranean classics with Deep South staples. Popular Israeli foods like hummus, tabbouleh and shakshouka can be found alongside Louisiana shrimp, gumbo and jambalaya, and the approach has been earning rave reviews since the restaurant opened last year.

He told From The Grapevine last year that his approach is based on a simple philosophy. “I believe food should be cooked because of a story," he said. "There should be some personal investment in what you're cooking because of a mentor, family history or emotional experience. It should connect with the person you're cooking for in a way that sparks emotion in them as well. It should also be fun.”

Alon Shaya likes to mix southern charm with modern Israeli cuisines.Alon Shaya likes to mix southern charm with modern Israeli cuisines, like with this lamb hummus dish. (Photo: Randy Schmidt)

That philosophy earned him an award and title of "Best New Restaurant" from the prestigious James Beard Foundation at a ceremony in May.

"Who woulda thought hummus in New Orleans?" Shaya said when he accepted his medal."What was everyone thinking?"

If that wasn't enough, Shaya, who opened his first restaurant, Pizza Domenica, in New Orleans in 2009, had his other new establishment, the Italian restaurant Domenica, named as a "Best New Italian Restaurant" by Food & Wine.

A scrumptious wood-fire pizza is a popular item at Domenica in New Orleans.A scrumptious wood-fire pizza is a popular item at Domenica in New Orleans. (Photo: Besh Restaurant Group)

For more on Food & Wine magazine's list, editor Nilou Motamed recently joined "CBS This Morning" to talk about it.

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