About the Chef
Akhtar Nawab is chef and owner of Alta Calidad in New York, Otra Vez in New Orleans, a partner at Bar Chinois in Washington, DC and founding partner and Co-CEO of Hospitality HQ (HHQ). Nawab’s ‘less-is-more’ style of cooking has earned him critical praise throughout the years, beginning with his experience in the kitchen at acclaimed restaurants like Gramercy Tavern, Craftbar and Craft. The latter received three stars from The New York Times and won the James Beard Foundation’s “Best New Restaurant” Award during Nawab’s tenure. After nearly 10 years at the helm of Tom Colicchio’s restaurants Nawab moved on to his own projects. Nawab received StarChef ’s “Rising Star Chef ” award while serving as executive chef of East Village gastropub The E.U., before striking out on his own as chef/partner in Elettaria in 2008. Shortly thereafter, he found himself gravitating towards Mexican cuisine and took the helm at popular NYC hotspot La Esquina. In 2017, Nawab opened his innovative Mexican restaurant Alta Calidad in Prospect Heights, Brooklyn, which has earned a Michelin Bib Gourmand and continues to thrive as a neighborhood mainstay.
Nawab has been featured in publications including Food & Wine, Bon Appetit, USA Today, and Eater, and has appeared on NBC’s “TODAY Show,” CBS’s “This Morning Saturday,” PBS’s “Simply Ming,” as well as Food Network’s “Iron Chef America,” and as a regular judge on “Beat Bobby Flay” and “Next Food Network Star.” He has also been featured in the acclaimed cookbook Coco: 10 World-Leading Masters Choose 100 Contemporary Chefs (Phaidon, 2009) and J’aime New York: 150 Culinary Destinations for Food Lovers (Ducasse Books, 2012), and has released his first cookbook, Good For You: Bold Flavors with Benefits (Chronicle Books, 2020).
Since 1998, Chef Nawab has forged some of his deepest friendships and connections working at the highest levels in the culinary community in San Francisco and NYC. Throughout his tenure at some of the most established restaurants, working alongside some of the world’s most prominent chefs and restaurateurs, Nawab has built unique relationships with top culinary talent based upon trust, and attracting top talent is of paramount importance to him. Given Chef Akhtar’s scope of experience, from New American (working for Chef Tom Colicchio for the better part of a decade) to Mexican and Indian.