Chef Vikram Sunderam
Executive Chef Vikram Sunderam, who has been with Rasika since pre-opening, is also a multiple times nominee for Best Chef Mid-Atlantic from the James Beard Foundation, as well as being a “Chef of the Year” candidate of the Restaurant Association of Metropolitan Washington.
Under the watchful eye of Bajaj and Sunderam’s direction in the kitchen, Rasika won “Best New Restaurant” in 2007, from the Restaurant Association of Metropolitan Washington and Zagat named it “Top New Restaurant” for the DC and Baltimore region that same year.
Atul Narain, Group General Manager
Atul Narain is the group general manager of both Rasika and Rasika West End. He joined Restaurateur Ashok Bajaj in August of 2002 to work at The Bombay Club. A native of New Delhi, India, Atul earned a hotel management diploma from the University of Delhi, and then launched into his hospitality career with Taj Hotels & Resorts in operations management. He would serve this prestigious company for over a decade and was tapped to be the food & beverage manager for the Taj Palace Hotel, New Delhi. Atul also worked at Hyatt Regency Delhi as assistant director of food & beverage while living in India.
At Knightsbridge, Atul has worked as part of the management team for The Bombay Club, 701 and The Oval Room before being tapped to open the highly acclaimed Rasika in Penn Quarter in December 2005 as general manager. Then in 2012, his role was expanded to oversee two restaurants, and Atul was integral to the successful opening of Rasika West End which earned three (out of four) stars in The Washington Post’s Fall Dining Guide. Atul was also named by Nycci Nellis of The List and featured in Eater as one of Washington’s top five general managers providing exceptional service for diners in 2012.
Neraj Govil, Chef
Neraj joined Rasika from the world renowned Taj group of hotels. He was working at the flagship Hotel, Taj Mahal Palace Hotel in Mumbai for 18 years. He joined Rasika Penn Quarter in February 2012 and since then has been responsible for the daily operations of the restaurant in coordination with the Group Executive Chef.
Simon Stilwell, Beverage Director
In June 2012, Restaurateur Ashok Bajaj announced the appointment of Simon Stilwell as beverage director for Rasika West End. Stilwell joined the Knightsbridge Restaurant group in February of 2011 to work at 701 Restaurant. There he filled a variety of roles before becoming part of the opening team for Rasika West End. In December 2013 Stilwell was transferred to Rasika Penn Quarter.
A graduate of the Institute of Culinary Education in New York City, Stilwell’s career includes working as assistant general manager at Hook Restaurant in Washington, DC from 2007 to 2009. He helped open the 175-seat restaurant before being transferred to Tackle Box in Georgetown as the general manager while still maintaining a supervisory role at Hook Restaurant until 2010. His experience includes working in fine dining restaurants along the east coast from New Jersey to Florida before settling in Washington to pursue a degree at American University in Organic Chemistry focusing on food science. Stilwell builds his wine list with vintages that add complementary flavors and aromas to dishes on Executive Chef Sunderam’s award-winning menu. He selects wines from areas where similar ingredients or cooking methods are used for an excellent pairing.
Zahirul Haque, Assistant Manager
Haque moved from New York to DC after spending eight year working for Madison Square Garden Banquet operation and at Cafetaria restaurant. He was part of the original opening team at Rasika Penn Quarter. He rose through the ranks, working his way up from food runner to server, to Captain and to Assistant Manager. He was also part of the opening team of Rasika West end. He along with other managers is responsible for the day to day operations of the restaurant.
Mohamed Issak, Curry Master Chef
Mr. Issak is a native of Lucknow, which is a city known for its gastronomy. He started cooking at a very early age and has worked at lot of reputable establishments in India, like the Taj group of Hotels. He has also worked at Copper Chimney restaurant in London before relocating to the US. He joined Rasika Penn Quarter in 2007 and cooks most of the curries, under the guidance of Chef Sunderam. He has 40 years of experience and has a plethora of traditional Indian recipes.