Chef Zia Sheikh of Restaurant After Hours - Biography

New York, NY

October 2019

Zia Sheikh grew up on Staten Island immersed in two very distinct cuisines. When he went out with friends in his neighborhood, he would usually eat Italian food or grab a slice at the numerous pizza parlors dotting the streets. But at home, he watched his mother make Indian food for the family and learned how to cook by mirroring her in the kitchen. Sheikh began his culinary career as a food service manager for Aramark and transitioned to working in the kitchens of several New Jersey restaurants as well as an externship at The Mercer Kitchen in Manhattan. He then moved to Philadelphia and became the chef tournant at 10 Arts by Eric Ripert and Zahav.

In 2007, he moved to New York and worked back of house at Tabla, North End Grill, ABC Cocina, White Street, Bricolage, and The Bombay Bread Bar during the ensuing decade. Working in the industry was taking a toll on Sheikh, and the late night culture of drinking and substance abuse enabled his addictions. When Sheikh had a near death experience, he decided to make changes to his life and went on sabbatical for six months to work on his mental health. Upon his return, he started Restaurant After Hours, a nonprofit that provides restaurants and industry professionals with mental health education, support, and resources.