Our Culinary Team
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. Vlad 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 where he was ultimately promoted to be the Executive Chef in 2013.
PASTRY CHEF - SHUN LI
Shun Li graduated from the prestigious Johnson & Wales University with a focus in Baking and Pastry. He began honing his pastry skills while working at the Grande Lakes Resort Ritz Carlton & JW Marriott under World Pastry Cup Team USA Winner Chef Laurent Lhuillier. Shun then moved on to be the Assistant Pastry Chef at the Charleston Place Hotel and the Executive Pastry Chef at Sienna Restaurant. Chef Shun joined The Grill Room team in 2008.
Chef’s Shun’s many accolades include a mention in the New York Times by the late Johnny Apple and a Best Tasting Cake Award for the Abe Lincoln 200th Birthday Cake Competition sponsored by the Southern Food & Beverage Museum. Chef Shun was also instrumental in Sienna Restaurant’s designation as Esquire Magazine’s Best New Restaurant.
Head Bartender - Roger Blais
This year Roger Blais will be celebrating his 20th anniversary at The Polo Club Lounge. Roger counts among his many accolades a designation on Travel + Leisure’s 2009 List of the World’s Greatest Bartenders. He was also pictured creating his signature Sazerac cocktail in The New York Times.
Roger Blais has mixed cocktails at many famous haunts including Studio 54 and Tavern on the Park at City Park. In 1994, the manager of The Grill Room called to ask Roger to mix his wonderful and creative libations at The Polo Club Lounge. The Polo represented Roger’s dream job – the staff, the guests and his obligation of providing the best cocktails in New Orleans finest setting.