40 Under 40 – Zachary Engel

To say that Zachary Engel is a rising star in the culinary world would be an understatement. Engel’s series of recent accolades began with his appointment as chef de cuisine, and later Executive Chef, at Shaya restaurant in New Orleans. Zachary recounts how his early experiences with Zeta Psi greatly resonated with his eventual career ambitions:

“During my undergraduate years I attended a few LTIs and conventions. What has always stuck with me from those events wasn’t the information or training we received as participants but the connections I made. I got to see the older Zetes welcoming undergrads and showing them how to connect on personal and professional levels. This type of seniority mirrors mentorship, a pillar of strong and effective restaurant culture. It was the first time I got to see it outside of the chapter house and it was really inspiring and impactful on how I would seek out chefs to work for. I think getting exposed to that level of networking early on in my career also illustrated to me that a fraternity convention isn’t about business but it’s where a lot of commerce begins. Networking at food festivals around the country and pop-up dinners was the same for me. Understanding the value of networking at these conferences put me at the forefront of my industry at a young age with the support and friendship of older chefs and restaurateurs.”

This past year, Engel was awarded the prestigious James Beard Foundation Award, and was named to Forbes’ 30 Under 30 Food and Drink list.

“In 2017, I won the James Beard Foundation’s Rising Star Chef of the Year Award, given to a chef under 30 who promises to make an impact on the restaurant industry. It is one of the single greatest achievements a young chef can receive, voted on by a collection of industry peers. I can attribute a great deal to my receiving of that award as talent, luck, hard work, etc. All those ingredients focus primarily on me. However, I was simply an effective leader of a talented and driven team. Zeta Psi taught me early on the importance of having strength in numbers and that is the only true attribution of my achievements.”

Since then, Engel has left Shaya to join Alon Shaya’s new culinary company, Pomegranate Hospitality. Engel is now working as the Culinary Director for Pomegranate Hospitality, which plans to open a new restaurant soon.

For more information on Zach, here are some other pieces that feature him and his work:

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