Chef Alon Shaya: I was fired for speaking up about sexual harassment

“No one should feel unwelcome, afraid or unsafe in their place of work. The restaurant industry does not get a pass,” wrote Alon Shaya.

By JTA
October 24, 2017 14:01
2 minute read.

Domenica Chef Alon Shaya cooks his favorite family dish (YouTube/NOLA.com)

Domenica Chef Alon Shaya cooks his favorite family dish (YouTube/NOLA.com)

 
X

Dear Reader,
As you can imagine, more people are reading The Jerusalem Post than ever before. Nevertheless, traditional business models are no longer sustainable and high-quality publications, like ours, are being forced to look for new ways to keep going. Unlike many other news organizations, we have not put up a paywall. We want to keep our journalism open and accessible and be able to keep providing you with news and analyses from the frontlines of Israel, the Middle East and the Jewish World.

As one of our loyal readers, we ask you to be our partner.

For $5 a month you will receive access to the following:

  • A user experience almost completely free of ads
  • Access to our Premium Section
  • Content from the award-winning Jerusalem Report and our monthly magazine to learn Hebrew - Ivrit
  • A brand new ePaper featuring the daily newspaper as it appears in print in Israel

Help us grow and continue telling Israel’s story to the world.

Thank you,

Ronit Hasin-Hochman, CEO, Jerusalem Post Group
Yaakov Katz, Editor-in-Chief

UPGRADE YOUR JPOST EXPERIENCE FOR 5$ PER MONTH Show me later

Israeli-American chef Alon Shaya says he was fired from the Besh Restaurant Group for talking to a New Orleans reporter about alleged sexual harassment in the chain detailed in an extensive expose published over the weekend.

Twenty-five current and former employees were interviewed for the story in NOLA.com/The Times-Picayune. Shaya, who was dismissed last month, has not been accused of any impropriety.

Be the first to know - Join our Facebook page.


The article was the result of an eight-month investigation by the newspaper. Nine of the 25 women agreed to have their names published.

Alon, who was executive chef at the BRG restaurants Domenica, Pizza Domenica and his namesake restaurant, Shaya, said in the story that he asked co-owner John Besh and business partner Octavio Mantilla to set up a human resources department in order to deal with such issues. The group’s general counsel, Raymond Landry, disputes the claim.

Shaya told a Times-Picayune reporter in an interview he initiated in August that the issues of sexual harassment at the restaurants were “handled appropriately.”

“Being inappropriate, that’s never tolerated, not one single bit. That’s not part of Shaya Restaurant Group culture, and it never has been,” he said.

In a follow-up interview on October 17, a month after he was let go by the BRG group, Shaya told the newspaper: “I do feel like I was fired for talking … and for standing up.”

In a Facebook post Sunday, Shaya acknowledged the experiences and bravery of the women cited in the story.



“No one should feel unwelcome, afraid or unsafe in their place of work. The restaurant industry does not get a pass,” he wrote.

“I made a decision to proactively engage with the reporter for the Times-Picayune because I believed these stories must be told. For doing so, I was terminated as Executive Chef at Domenica, Pizza Domenica, and my name-sake restaurant, Shaya. I lost nearly all I had worked for, before I realized what I had gained. As a result of this experience, I have a renewed commitment to do everything I can in the future to prevent the powerful from taking advantage of those that depend on them.”

In May 2015, Shaya was named best chef in the South by the James Beard Foundation, the top prize for food. He broke through as the winner after being a finalist in the category for the preceding three years.

In response to the article, John Besh acknowledged “a consensual relationship with one member of my team”; in a separate statement, BRG’s general counsel, Raymond Landry, said the restaurant group has “revamped our training, education and procedures” for dealing with employee complaints.

Join Jerusalem Post Premium Plus now for just $5 and upgrade your experience with an ads-free website and exclusive content. Click here>>

Related Content

Poland Jewish Museum
October 23, 2018
First large-scale kosher expo to showcase in Poland

By CNAAN LIPHSHIZ/JTA