Food, Top Stories

Meet the Indian American chef whose Brooklyn restaurant made it to the 2018 Michelin Bib Gourmands

The Michelin Guides last month announced their 2018 Bib Gourmands distinctions and Alta Calidad, a Mexican restaurant in Brooklyn, has found a place in its New York City List.

Bib Gourmands is a collection of high-quality restaurants where customers can enjoy two courses plus a glass of wine or dessert for $40 or dessert for $40 or less.

The Indian American chef Akhtar Nawab is happy as his restaurant, Alta Calidad is part of the list, according to an NBC News report.

Nawab, who hails from Kentucky, comes from a family of doctors and chose to become a chef soon after he completed the first year in college. He started working in a local family restaurant and found a passion for cooking.

“My mom was terrified for me to do this. My dad was angry,” NBC News quoted Nawab. “My mom had a couple of cooks in lifetime that served her essentially and same with my dad. So I think they just couldn’t get their head around it for a really long time.”

Nawab then joined the California Culinary Academy in San Francisco for graduation and after graduating he worked in several Bay Area kitchens. He moved to New York in 1998 to work under Gramercy Tavern and in 2008, opened Elettaria, his first restaurant.

Elettaria’s tagline was “European with a hint of Indian” and it garnered praises from many. However, Nawab closed the restaurant next year, citing poor economy.

Nawab, who was looking for a change, later joined La Esquina, a Mexican eatery with four branches in New York City. He opened the full-service restaurant Alta Calidad on Vanderbilt in Brooklyn this spring and now, he also has restaurants – Fero in Birmingham’s Pizitz Food Hall and Indie Fresh in NYC, in partnership with former COO of Juice Press, Shom Chowdhury. He is also gearing up to open Prather’s on the Alley in Washington, DC.

“I’m super pleased that they came to look at what we created that’s very meaningful,” he told NBC about Bib Gourmands. “But if what comes out of it is we have reached a bigger audience to come and try it, that’s great. That’s wonderful.”

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