Just out: In what seems like a major blow to John Besh, Shaya restaurant’s brand new executive chef, Zachary Engel, is leaving the post to join Alon Shaya’s new company, Pomegranate Hospitality, as Culinary Director. Shaya restaurant manager, Sean Courtney, will also be joining Alon Shaya’s new group as Operations Director.
The news was that Engel and Courtney were joining Pomegranate hospitality was released on the organization’s Facebook page this evening. Engel confirmed to Eater via Facebook message that he was indeed leaving his post at Shaya restaurant
Engel had been recently promoted to replace Alon Shaya as executive chef at his namesake restaurant the day after the stunning news broke that Alon Shaya was splitting with the Besh Restaurant Group with hopes of buying Shaya restaurant from the Besh group. Engel, Courtney, and Shaya had worked together for several years, beginning at Domenica.
The loss of two major players at Shaya restaurant is the latest development in the dramatic split between one-time business partners Alon Shaya and John Besh.
Engel said the following in a statement attributed to him on the Pomegranate Hospitality Facebook page:
“Upon returning to New Orleans three years ago, I had no idea what was in store for my life and for my career. I'm so grateful to everyone involved in Shaya Restaurant, from our guests to our staff, and for this opportunity to cook Israeli food in a city that I love. I deeply value the life-changing opportunities I've been given. I'm looking forward to starting the next chapter of my career as Culinary Director for Pomegranate Hospitality.”
Zachary Engel took home the prize for Rising Star Chef at this year’s James Beard Awards. Eater has reached out to Alon Shaya and the John Besh Restaurant Group for comment, but they were not immediately available.