In Celebration of National Pasta Month, on October 19 from 1-2 p.m. the Rouses Culinary Innovation Center by Jennair will host Nick Lama, a New Orleans-born chef and third-generation Sicilian, is the Executive Chef and Owner of Avo in New Orleans. His passion for food began at a young age while watching his mother and grandmother prepare recipes from the family’s home country and accompanying his father to work at Lama’s St. Roch Seafood Market, the family-owned market in the Upper Ninth Ward. Both experiences inspired him to open Avo in 2016.
Following high school graduation, Nick considered attending culinary school, but went on to college and received a B.S. in Finance from the University of New Orleans. After graduating, he worked as an agent for New York Life Insurance Company until the loss of his house during Hurricane Katrina forced him to reevaluate what was important to him. His love of Southern flavors drew him to New York City to attend the French Culinary Institute. While studying in New York, he worked in some of the most prestigious kitchens, including The Mark by Jean-Georges and Marcus Samuelsson’s Red Rooster.
His desire to refine his skills led him to Gautreau’s to work under the guidance of Executive Chef Sue Zemanick. Nick worked his way up to Chef De Cuisine and was featured on Bravo’s Top Chef Masters cooking alongside Zemanick. In 2013, Nick won Gambit Magazine’s Emerging Chefs Challenge.
Chef Nick has competed on Bravo’s Top Chef Masters series, “Battle of the Sous Chefs“, Top Chef New Orleans series, "Padma’s Picks” and won Gambit’s Emerging Chefs Challenge in 2013. Most recently, he appeared on The Today Show with Hoda & Kathie Lee. Avo has won numerous awards in the short time it’s been open, including Italian Restaurant of the Year from New Orleans Magazine.
When not in the kitchen creating his next Sicilian inspired Southern dish, Nick spends his time with wife, Melissa, and young daughter, Sofia.