When he was a student at Harriton High School in Lower Merion, Alon Shaya chopped a lot of onions. That's because Shaya - now a superstar chef whose New Orleans spot was just named best new restaurant in the country - was a troublemaker as a kid.
And every time he got thrown out of class, he'd ask to be sent to Donna Barnett's home-economics class.
Barnett, a spitfire of a woman who just retired after 25 years at Harriton, saw something in the troubled teen. When he was at his worst, Shaya would face a mountain of onions.
"I'd say, 'Give me one pound thin-sliced, one pound minced, one pound diced.' He'd just look at me - 'What are you going to do with all those onions?' And I'd tell him that wasn't his business. 'Just start chopping.' "
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