In a stunning split, megastar dream team John Besh and Alon Shaya have made the first moves to dissolve their business relationship. Brett Anderson reported today that the “high-octane, James Beard Award-winning partnership is coming to an end,” with negotiations underway for Shaya to purchase Shaya restaurant from the Besh Restaurant Group. Shaya hopes “a deal can be done soon.”
Shaya also has an ownership stake in Domenica, which he helped open in 2009, and its casual, truncated spin-off, Pizza Domenica. Those two restaurants are not part of the current negotiation, and Shaya wouldn’t comment further in the report on negotiations that were still fluid.
The two chefs began working together in 2005, when Shaya joined the team at Besh Steak at Harrah’s Casino. Soon it started raining Beards. In 2014, the James Beard Foundation inducted Besh into Who’s Who in Food & Beverage. In 2015, the James Beard Foundation awarded Shaya Best Chef: South for his work at Domenica. In 2016, Besh and Shaya opened Shaya, which went on to win Best New Restaurant at the 2016 James Beard Awards. Zachary Engel, Chef de Cuisine at Shaya, won the Rising Star Chef award at the 2017 James Beard Awards.
This is where it gets kind of strange. Anderson noticed something odd in an Instagram post about Engel’s JBF award. Besh posted, “Not only is @zjengel a #jamesbeardfoundation award winning super talented chef, he's an even better person. Congratulations Chef, we couldn't be prouder! #nola #shaya#beshrestaurantgroup #blessed”.
Shaya quickly responded, “@chefjohnbesh shaya restaurant group.”
At one point, it seemed the Besh empire would never stop expanding. This year, it has possibly seen more contractions than expansions though. Besh closed Lüke in San Antonio at the end of February. In May, he sold the North Shore gem, La Provence, where he once worked under his mentor. And now, Shaya will no longer be under his roof.