Stories / Awards, Guides and Tips

A Rising Star Chef of the Year Nominee on His NOLA Favorites

Maggie Borden

April 24, 2017


The James Beard Rising Star Chef of the Year Award celebrates the country's up-and-coming toques who are pushing the industry forward with their innovative techniques and styles. Since these tastemakers have their fingers on the pulse of today's dining scene, we asked this year's nominees to guide us through the best food and drink of their home base. Here, Zachary Engel of 2016 Best New Restaurant award winner Shaya shares his NOLA go-tos for everything from date-night dinners to family-style feasts of epic proportions.


Date Night: Compère Lapin—"Chef Nina is a wonderful person, a good friend, and talented chef. She usually cooks something special for me and my wife, which we love. The restaurant is intimate but full of heart and hospitality." 

Cheap Eats: Guy's Po-Boys on Magazine Street—"It's my go-to po-boy shop for lunch on my days off, which usually involves a roast beef with swiss cheese and grilled onions, fully dressed." 

Breakfast: "Carrollton Market in the Riverbend has one of my favorite brunches in town. The food is exceptionally well done and not too heavy, which is a break from most New Orleans brunch spots."  

Drinks: "I don't go to the French Quarter often, but when I do it's to Cane & Table. I have a guilty-pleasure thing for giant cocktails in tiki-themed glasses and they have killer selections."

Bakery: Bellegarde Bakery in Central City—"Graison Gill's stone mill and bakery really turned my perspective on breads inside-out. His approach to fresh-milled grains and sourcing gives his breads this ethereal quality and flavor. Most of his stuff is also sold in groceries and specialty shops around New Orleans."

Grocery: "A close friend just opened up a specialty grocery called Simone's Market. I try to go there as often as possible to fill up on her family recipes of pimento cheese and potato salad and grab specialty items I can't find in other stores like Soom Tahini and Poirier's Cane Syrup." 

Large Groups: Mosca's"New Orleans–style Sicilian food in the West Bank. Mary Jo and Lisa Mosca carry on the legacy of their family's 70-year-old restaurant. They offer these epic family-style feasts that make it a fun meal for large groups. Plus, they are two of the sweetest women you'll ever meet."

Learn more about the 2017 James Beard Awards.


Maggie Borden is associate editor at the James Beard Foundation. Find her on Instagram and Twitter.