Chef Ali Loukzada is living proof that with perseverance, passion and raw talent anything is possible. Loukzada brings these skills to the Rubin Museum of Art where he serves as Executive Chef.
Born and raised in Mumbai, India, Loukzada spent his childhood working at family-owned restaurants. As a teenager Loukzada found himself spending most of his time learning to cook with his mother and grandmother, which ignited his passion for a culinary career.
Despite his parent’s desire for him to seek a white-collar job, Loukzada came to the United States in 1998 to find better opportunities in the restaurant industry.
“My parents never wanted me to be in the restaurant industry but I knew who I was and what I liked. I love food and I love cooking. There’s no denying that,” says Loukzada.
With only $350 in his pocket, the seventeen-year-old Loukzada was determined to start working and, more importantly, cooking in the city’s top kitchens. Without any restaurant experience in the big city, Loukzada started at the bottom, accepting his first position as a bus boy at Pershing Square.
After accepting a few small promotions, Loukzada decided to take his career to the next level by attending the New York Restaurant School. He interned at David Waltuck’s Le Zinc and Chanterelle before graduating in 2000; enjoying his eighty-hour work weeks was a clear sign that Loukzada was meant for the restaurant industry.
Upon graduation Loukzada returned to Pershing Square as a sous chef and the following year accepted a position to work under his now-mentor Chef Floyd Cardoz. It was here that Loukzada’s eyes were opened to the world of spices and using them in ways he never imagined. Cardoz taught Loukzada how to create layers of spices out of simple ingredients; to take guests on a sensory journey through sour, sweet, spicy, and hot flavors in every bite. Loukzada’s hard work never went unnoticed and he was later promoted to entremetier and tournant.
In 2004 Loukzada moved on to Tabla Restaurant where he served as sous chef until December 2005. While at Tabla he combined his Indian roots with modern day New York fare. Loukzada was responsible for preparing authentic Indian cuisine at the Bread Bar as well as fish, sauces, and roasted meats. Loukzada also trained new line chefs and helped with catering and special events.
In 2006 Loukzada began working at Stephen Starr’s Modern Asian restaurant Buddakan, where he served as sous chef. While at Buddakan the talented chef used his worldly flavors to create new menu presentations and assist with the development of innovative dishes.
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