Executive Chef - Vlad Ahmadyarov
As a native Azerbaijani living in Russia, Vlad Ahmadyarov became acquainted with Cajun cooking long before stepping foot on Louisiana soil. He began working in the food industry as a 16-year-old for his favorite uncle’s restaurants and credits him for inspiring him to become a chef. Years later, a Louisiana native came to Southern Russia along the Caspian Sea to open Cajun and TexMex restaurants, and Vlad got his first taste of the cuisine.
“Some ingredients were hard to find in Russia,” Vlad recalls. “It was a little challenging because we had to either ship it or substitute it as close as possible.”
Vlad mastered the basics and after three years, he was made chef of the first Cajun restaurant in the Southern region of Russia. The owner had opened a new restaurant called Winners Circle in Folsom, La. and invited Vlad to migrate to the states in 2000. He worked at Winners Circle for two years before moving to New Orleans to work at the Ritz-Carlton where he held various positions for three years before transferring to the Ritz-Carlton in Boston after Hurricane Katrina.
In 2006, Vlad returned to New Orleans and began as a sous chef at The Windsor Court Hotel. He worked his way up the ranks over the past couple of years and upon announcing his new executive chef position to the culinary staff, morale has never been higher.
“Good morale comes from good management,” Vlad says. “You have to gain the respect of the employees by working next to each person and applauding them for whatever they’re doing.”
Vlad has grown as a chef in the Southern tradition and his philosophy is to only use the freshest of Gulf ingredients, including hyper local products from the farmers markets and neighboring farms. Having grown up near the Caspian Sea, seafood has been a favorite ingredient of his for some time and gravitates towards using caviar, snapper and grouper in his cuisine.
In his role as executive chef, Vlad is responsible for overseeing the dining operations of Polo Club Lounge, The Grill Room, Waterman Poolside Bar, room service and banquets at The Windsor Court Hotel, where the culinary philosophy is to provide guests and diners with “refined Southern” dishes. He will also work closely with the mixologist for the property’s Cocktail Bar or creative, craft cocktails incorporating culinary techniques.
New Orleans has not only opened up culinary opportunities for Vlad, but is also where he met his wife, who is coincidentally from the same city in Russia as Vlad. He says his wife and daughter are his biggest fans.