Rising Star Chef Akhtar Nawab of La Esquina - Biography

New York, NY

August 2010

Raised in Louisville, KY, 2007 New York Rising Star Akhtar Nawab grew up on his mother’s traditional Indian meals. While studying at The University of Louisville, Akhtar got his first restaurant job at Ditto’s Bar & Grill when he was 19, bussing tables and washing. After four years working the pantry station, he enrolled in the California Culinary Academy in San Francisco, graduating in 1996. After graduation, he worked at Bizou in San Francisco, under Loretta Keller, who would become one of his biggest culinary influences. After Bizou, Akhtar continued his training with San Francisco chefs, working with Traci des Jardins at Jardiniere and Roland Passot at La Folie.

In 1998, Akhtar moved to New York to work for Tom Colicchio at Gramercy Tavern. Over the course of four years, he spent time at all of the kitchen’s stations. In 2001, he joined Colicchio to open Craft as its sous chef. One year later, he assumed the chef de cuisine position at Craftbar, where he was later promoted to executive chef.

Currently serving as executive chef at La Esquina, Akhtar focuses on simple, thoughtful dishes that approach seasonal ingredients with a Mediterranean sensibility.