Chef Akhtar Nawab
Akhtar Nawab is chef and owner of Otra Vez, Alta Calidad in Brooklyn, ACTQ (Alta Calidad Taqueria) with locations in Brooklyn, New Orleans and Omaha, and Hospitality HQ which is a food hall management company. With nearly 25 years of experience in the kitchen, the Kentucky-born 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 popular NYC hotspot La Esquina and later as a partner at Choza Taqueria where he explored Mexican street food. In 2017, Nawab opened Alta Calidad in Prospect Heights, Brooklyn. There he serves his smart and creative take on Mexican cuisine in a vibrant neighborhood atmosphere, earning a Michelin Bib Gourmand in 2018 and 2019.
In April 2019, Nawab will open to Otra Vez at The Standard building in the South Market District development 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 will continue 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. Later this spring, Nawab will open ACTQ, a more casual version of Alta Calidad serving tacos, tortas and Mexican roti at Time Out Market in downtown Brooklyn as well as New Orleans. He will open a third ACTQ in Omaha later this year.
Nawab has been featured in various publications, including Food & Wine, Bon Appetit and Eater, and has appeared on Food Network’s “Iron Chef America.” He was included in acclaimed cookbook Coco: 10 World-Leading Masters Choose 100 Contemporary Chefs (Phaidon, 2009) and will release his first cookbook, all about his unique take on Mexican cuisine, in 2020.