Alon Shaya (center) celebrates his win at the James Beard Awards ceremony in Chicago in 2016.
(photo credit: GALDONES PHOTOGRAPHY/JAMES BEARD FOUNDATION)
Saba and Safta will be there before you know it. Not your actual grandparents, but two new restaurants by Israeli- American chef Alon Shaya – named after the Hebrew words for grandfather and grandmother.
Shaya, who gained acclaim after opening his eponymous restaurant in New Orleans, is slated to open Saba in New Orleans and Safta in Denver in the coming months.
“Grandfathers have many stories to tell about a life’s worth of experiences; Saba wants to tell them through food and drink,” Shaya wrote on social media on Tuesday of the upcoming NOLA eatery. The chef, who was born in Bat Yam and grew up in Philadelphia, has become one of the most prominent faces of Israeli cuisine in the United States. He won a prestigious James Beard Award in 2016 when Shaya was named the best new restaurant.
Shaya is paying a sweet homage to his grandparents, but also, he is not able to name his new restaurants after himself. The chef is facing a legal battle over the name following his departure from the original Shaya restaurant last year.
In September, Shaya was fired from the Besh Restaurant Group, which owns Shaya. The chef said he was let go for speaking to a reporter about sexual harassment allegations against John Besh, the group’s CEO. Besh later resigned after the allegations were made public.
In October, Shaya started the Pomegranate Hospitality group, and included in its mission statement a pledge to be a company where “everyone feels comfortable and safe.”
Saba and Safta will be the group’s first eateries, which will serve Shaya’s signature modern Israeli cuisine. According to Food & Wine magazine, Saba is set to open in the spring and will be “paying homage to the culinary landscape of Israel.”
Shaya told Denver’s 5280 magazine that Safta, which is slated for late spring, will have “hot, steamy pita for everyone that comes to the restaurant, which will be served with various types of hummus, salads and vegetable dishes to pass around the table and share.”
Can’t make it to New Orleans or Denver anytime soon? Shaya’s first cookbook, titled Shaya: An Odyssey of Food, My Journey Back to Israel
, will be published next month.