Alon Shaya really loves food. He loves cooking it, being around it, learning about it, and teaching others about it. Born in Israel and raised on cheesesteaks in Philadelphia, Alon now calls New Orleans his home.
In 2017, Alon formed Pomegranate Hospitality to create a space where meaningful, lasting relationships are created, community engagement prospers, and cultural differences are celebrated. Pomegranate Hospitality hopes to foster opportunities for colleagues, partners and friends in a comfortable environment, helping all involved to achieve their personal and professional goals.
In 2016, Alon joined forces with Donna Barnett, his high school home economics teacher, to start the Shaya Barnett Foundation, committed to providing culinary education and resources to high school students.
In March 2018, Alon published his debut cookbook, "Shaya: An Odyssey of Food, My Journey Back to Israel" (Knopf). Part memoir and part cookbook, Alon shares his deeply personal journey of survival and discovery, exploring the evolution of a cuisine and the transformative power and magic of food and cooking. Readers learn the secret to making Shaya's acclaimed pita bread while hearing the food stories that have shaped his life.
Alon has been nominated for five James Beard Awards. He has been named "Best Chef, South" while at Domenica in 2015, and Shaya won "Best New Restaurant" in 2016. He was named one of the "50 People Who Are Changing the South" by Southern Living magazine in 2015, and one of the "50 Most Influential Jews in America" by The Forward.
Alon, his wife Emily, and their two dogs Henry and Ceci, live in New Orleans. On their days off, they enjoying traveling for new food experiences, playing tennis, and fly fishing.
Hoda began her kitchen career at age two when her dad started a burger joint in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. She later studied at Louisiana State University and moved to New Orleans in 2005, a few months before Hurricane Katrina. After moving to Brooklyn to continue graduate school, Hoda found she was missing her mom’s Persian food back home. She began translating her mother’s recipes through phone calls and started to learn a lot about cooking and found her passion. She returned to New Orleans in 2008 to attend the culinary program at Delgado Community College. In 2016 during a stage in Alon Shaya’s kitchen, the aromas brought her back to the food she grew up eating and loves. Hoda is honored to be part of the amazing team at Saba. When not in the kitchen, you can find her in a dining room somewhere.
Lauren has been in the food service business for over 15 years. What began as a backpacking trip to Italy prior to taking the LSAT, became a life changing event. She returned from travel, and instead of heading to law school, Lauren launched two successful and highly rated crêperies, aptly named ‘Buttons.’ Years later, wanting to test her hand at managing a larger operation, she became the manager of a 175- seat restaurant in Princeton, New Jersey.
Lauren’s love of travel, both domestic and international, brought her to New Orleans, where she fell in love with the sights, sounds, and sophisticated culinary scene. Anxious to leave the cold weather of the northeast, she recently moved to NOLA and is excited to join the Saba team.
Chef de Cuisine
Cara Peterson found her way to Pomegranate Hospitality through her interest in simple but nuanced flavors. She grew up in a military family and lived in multiple cities in the United States and abroad. Her varied background provided a broad exposure to regional cuisines and uncommon ingredients. With a degree from Virginia Tech specializing in technical writing and horticulture she’s propelled into a creative and holistic approach to food.
While initially beginning in baking and pastry in Virginia, Peterson alternated between sweet and savory throughout her career finding unique textures and techniques in each discipline. Working in Northern Virginia exposed her to globally curated flavors under the guise of a wine bar but it was in Philadelphia that her interest developed in Israeli and Middle Eastern cuisine where she was the pastry chef at Zahav Restaurant from 2014 to 2015.
Following a move to New Orleans she furthered her skills at Shaya Restaurant starting as a line cook and working her way up to executive sous chef. When the sun’s out you can find her with a glass of tequila or exploring a local garden.
Jessica Retif is native to New Orleans, with over 15 years of experience in the restaurant industry. She has earned prestige within the New Orleans community for both her passion to create uniquely crafted beverages while providing exemplary service. She has spent the past five years working under James Beard award winning chefs throughout New Orleans to cultivate style and craftsmanship in her beverage program. It is her mission to cultivate unforgettable experiences for guests, through the bond of breaking bread.
Kara, originally from Miami, moved to New Orleans to attend Tulane University. After graduating, she chose to remain in NOLA to soak up more of the captivating energy, innovation, and culinary experiences that she had become accustomed to. Before joining Pomegranate Hospitality, Kara worked at a local PR consultancy that caters to women owned businesses and also held numerous positions in the culinary events world. Kara loves the culinary arts and takes any opportunity to devour them while discovering the world around her. She is very excited to be a part of the management team at Saba and is looking forward to contributing to its unique and enriching food culture and its creative and dynamic team.
Julia, originally from the San Francisco Bay Area, started her cooking career when she took a class while attending college in Santa Cruz. She instantly fell in love with the energy and excitement of the professional kitchen. She attended culinary school in 2010 and has been working her way through the ranks ever since. Julia moved to New Orleans in June of 2018 and started at Saba shortly after that. She is thrilled to be a part of such a talented and creative team.
On her days off you can find her hanging out with her dog Mickey, with a glass of rosé in her hand.