Alejandro Najar
My love for cooking started with my grandmother’s recipes and my aunt’s culinary adventures. I discovered my calling in my family restaurant while my peers dreamt of becoming doctors, lawyers, or police officers; I found comfort in the sounds of pots clattering and pans sizzling at 14. Although I attended culinary school, the real education came from the restaurant kitchens.

When I stepped onto the kitchen line for the first time, there was a pivotal shift. The harsh mixture of sounds, cursing, and the thunderous roar of heavy metal music were chaotic yet strangely beautiful. It was at that moment that I knew I had found my home.

It has been sixteen years since those early days, yet my love for this world still burns as brightly as ever. Along the way, I have learned that resilience is the cornerstone of success in this unforgiving industry. It is about bending, not breaking, in the face of adversity. Failure taught me valuable lessons. The bitter taste of defeat motivated me to strive for greater heights. It reminded me of the importance of self-care in an industry that often overlooks it.

The shared knowledge and relentless pursuit of perfection molded me into the chef I am today. As I continue to evolve as both a person and a chef, I dream of a future where mental health is prioritized, where the use of drugs is less prevalent, and where work-life balance is not just a luxury but a right.

Cheers to the journey—highs, lows, and everything in between. I’m grateful for learning, embracing critique, and keeping the fire alive. Possibilities abound if there’s a stove and ingredients to experiment with; my kitchen story continues.

What is your favorite street food?

Anything Japanese, like takoyaki, or halal street carts in NYC.

Which restaurant or food stand do you recommend? (Different from yours) (Add its Instagram handle if possible)

The Sqaure Scullery in Akron Ohio.

What is your guilty pleasure?

Nacho cheese. I have a week spot for it.

What ingredient do you find overrated?

Caviar, truffles, and micro greens.

What ingredient do you think is underrated?

Lemon. Fresh Herbs for garish, liek axtually using dill, sorrel, parsley leaves. Things that actually enhance or bring brightness to you dish I read of crappy micro greens that we use just for aesthetic.

What is your favorite kitchen tool?

I would like to say chef knife, or a certain utensil, but it’s a make shift boom box using your phone and a metal deep 6th pan.

What is your worst kitchen nightmare?

Showing up to a fully booked restaurant and everyone called out or didn’t show up.