Within days of announcing the launch of his own restaurant group, Pomegranate Hospitality (www.pomhospitality.com), Alon Shaya's team announced new team members.
Chef Zachary Engel and Shaya general manager Sean Courtney joined the group, according to an announcement Oct. 17.
Engel, who was tapped as executive chef at Shaya after Alon Shaya and John Besh publicly parted ways in the restaurant, won the Rising Star Chef of the Year award at the James Beard Foundation's annual awards gala in May.
According to a post on Pomegranate Hospitality's Facebook page, Engel will be the company's Culinary Director and Courtney will be the Operations Director. It was not immediately clear who will step into Engel and Courtney's positions at the Uptown restaurant.
There are no details about Pomegranate's plans. Its website posts a mission statement declaring, "We will spend our days together in a place where everyone feels comfortable and safe. We will create a space, whether in our restaurants or throughout our community and beyond focusing on furthering love, mutual respect, professionalism and personal fullfilment."
News of Pomegranate's launch was first reported three weeks after news broke of the split between Shaya and Besh. Shaya, whose eponymous modern Israeli restaurant (4213 Magazine St., 504-891-4213; www.shayarestaurant.com) has garnered accolades and awards since opening in 2015, is in negotiations to purchase the restaurant, according to a Besh Restaurant Group spokesperson. According to a post from Shaya on Pomegranate's website, those plans are still in the works.
"Though I am sadly no longer involved in the operations of the restaurants that I have labored in and loved so dearly for so long, my heart is still there, especially with the amazing people who work so hard to make them great," Shaya wrote. "They have made my life better. Though I remain fully committed to the possibility of acquiring Shaya restaurant in the near future, I look forward to turning the page in my next chapter here in New Orleans and beyond."
Shaya's partnership with Besh began in 2005. The pair went on to open Italian restaurants Domenica and Pizza Domenica together, where Shaya was the executive chef and a partner in the business. At the time of the split, a Besh spokesperson confirmed that Michael Wilson had been promoted to executive chef at both Italian restaurants.