Chef Akhtar Nawab
Akhtar Nawab is the chef and owner of Alta Calidad and Alta Calidad Taqueria in New York and Otra Vez in New Orleans. He’s also a founding partner of Hospitality HQ, one of the country’s premier food hall management firms with properties nationwide.
With nearly 25 years of experience in the kitchen, the Kentucky-bred chef of Indian heritage has embraced Mexican cuisine, connecting the layered, complex cooking and ingredients of Mexico with the Indian food he grew up eating. 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 of which received three stars from The New York Times and won the James Beard Foundation’s “Best New Restaurant” Award during Nawab’s tenure. Nawab moved on to serve as the executive chef of East Village gastropub The E.U., for which he received StarChef’s “Rising Star Chef” award before striking out on his own as a partner at Elettaria. Moving towards Mexican cuisine, Nawab took the helm at NYC hotspot La Esquina, and went on to open Alta Calidad in Prospect Heights, Brooklyn in 2017. There he serves his smart and creative take on Mexican cuisine in a vibrant neighborhood atmosphere, earning a Michelin Bib Gourmand in 2018. The same year, he opened Prather’s on the Alley in Washington D.C., a modern take on a classic American restaurant with a focus on local ingredients.
In April 2019, Nawab opened his innovative Mexican restaurant Otra Vez in the South Market District in New Orleans. Much like his own culinary style, Nawab has long admired the diverse cuisines and gastronomic influences represented in New Orleans. At Otra Vez, Nawab continues to build on his refined style of cooking, with dishes rooted in the big, classic flavors associated with Mexican cuisine incorporating the ingredients of Louisiana. In June 2019, Nawab opened Alta Calidad Taqueria (ACTQ), a fast casual version of Alta Calidad serving tacos, tortas and roti at Time Out Market in downtown Brooklyn.
Building on his vast food hall experience having operated seven businesses in different states, Nawab opened the Inner Rail Food Hall in Omaha, NE in late 2019. His wide-ranging and intimate knowledge of food halls made Nawab an expert in the field of operations management. Since 2019, Nawab and his company have opened additional food halls in Chicago IL., Knoxville TN. and soon in Houston TX., Riverdale and Silver Spring MD., Portland ME., Salt Lake City UT., and Orlando FL. amongst others.
Nawab has been featured in various publications, including Food & Wine, Bon Appétit and Eater, and has appeared on Food Network’s “Iron Chef America” and as a frequent judge on Beat Bobby Flay. He was included in acclaimed cookbook Coco: 10 World-Leading Masters Choose 100 Contemporary Chefs (Phaidon, 2009) and released his first cookbook Good For You, all about his unique take on healthy food, in 2020.
Restaurant Consultant & Food Hall Consultant
Akhtar and the team at Hospitality HQ provide creative consulting and management for both food halls and restaurants. With over 25 years in the restaurant industry, Akhtar has developed a keen eye for identifying the opportunities and potential pitfalls for his clients.
With years of experience and a finger that’s constantly on the pulse of new trends, Akhtar is able to help lead establishments with a variety of offerings. He’s able to help new concepts that are fine-tuning their development strategies, established concepts looking to dial in their operations, and any concept that’s looking for improvements with their communications and marketing strategy.
The establishments Akhtar has helped range from fast-casual food halls to four-star fine dining establishments. There’s no concept too small or too large for him and his team to lead it to success.
Good for You
Bold Flavors with Benefits
In his debut cookbook, chef Akhtar Nawab offers his trusted repertoire of nutritious, flavor-packed recipes influenced by decades of experience cooking Mexican, Italian, Indian and New American cuisine. With inspiring stories from his personal and professional journey alongside essential pantry staples, indispensable techniques and exciting ideas for every meal of the day, Good For You: Bold Flavors with Benefits is your ultimate guide to eating well and feeling great.
Praise for Good For You
Akhtar Nawab is one of the best chefs in America. His book is full of insanely delicious and ingenious ways to cook food that makes you feel good. We’re lucky to have it.
—DAVID CHANG, chef and founder, Momofuku
In 2017, Nawab opened his innovative Mexican restaurant Alta Calidad in Prospect Heights, Brooklyn, which earned a Michelin Bib Gourmand award in 2018 and 2019 and continues to thrive as a neighborhood mainstay. Then in 2019, Akhtar opened Otra Vez, the sister restaurant to Alta Calidad, in the heart of New Orleans’ South Market district.