Oscars of the Food World: America's Best New Restaurant Is Israeli

Shaya, launched by Israeli-American chef Alon Shaya last year, wins the James Beard Award for the countrys best new restaurant.

Alon Shaya of Shaya restaurant in New Orleans poses with his wife Emily Ostuw Shaya on the red carpet before the 2016 James Beard Awards in Chicago, May 2, 2016.
Matt Marton, AP

An Israeli restaurant was crowned the best new restaurant in the United States in the food industrys version of the Oscars last week.

Shaya, launched by Israeli-American chef Alon Shaya in February last year, won the James Beard Award for the countrys best new restaurant for 2015. 

It had previously been named restaurant of the year by several publications.

"Who wouldve thought hummus in New Orleans?" said Shaya in his acceptance speech.

This years awards proved auspicious for Israeli cuisine in general. Another Israeli-American chef, Michael Solomonov, won the prize for best new cookbook with Zahav: A World of Israeli Cooking, announced last week, based on the food at his award-winning restaurant Zahav in Philadelphia. 

In addition, London-based Israeli chef Yotam Ottolenghi won the award for Cooking from a Professional Point of View for NOPI: The Cookbook, which he co-wrote with Ramael Scully.

Some 10 different Israeli restaurants, chefs and bakers made it to the semifinal phase of the awards.