Ashok Bajaj has owned and operated award-winning restaurants in London and the United States for the last 25 plus years. Born in New Delhi, India, Bajaj received his degree in Commerce from University of Delhi, continuing on to complete his postgraduate studies in Hotel Management and Tourism while working for one of India’s leading hotel chains, the Ashok Group. After a six-year tenure and extensive management training with another premier hotel chain, Taj Hotels, Resorts and Palaces, which relocated Bajaj to London, Ashok took some time to travel to Sydney, Australia, before choosing his next steps.
When presented with an opportunity to move to the United States in 1988, Bajaj took it, choosing Washington, D.C. as his ultimate destination to open his first restaurant, The Bombay Club, that same year. Then in 1991, Ashok opened 701 Restaurant followed by The Oval Room (1994), Ardeo (1998) and later Bardeo (2001) next door, providing the same quality American cuisine in a wine bar setting. In December 2005, Ashok brought Washingtonians the nationally recognized, award-winning restaurant Rasika, showcasing Indian fare with a modern twist, and in September of 2009, he opened his first Italian restaurant Bibiana Osteria-Enoteca. Next came the eagerly awaited Rasika West End, a sister restaurant to four-star Rasika, which opened on March 30, 2012, and in August 2012, he signed a lease for a new restaurant project in Penn Quarter. The 8,300 square foot restaurant (formerly known as Zola) is walking distance from Rasika and 701 at 800 F St. NW, in the International Spy Museum building.
Bajaj, his notable restaurants and chefs have won numerous RAMMYs presented by the Restaurant Association of Metropolitan Washington. In 2012, his collection of power, neighborhood and fine dining establishments captured 10 RAMMY nominations, including one for Restaurateur of the Year for Bajaj and Rasika captured Chef of the Year. His restaurants have also been consistently nominated for prestigious awards by the James Beard Foundation, including Best Chef-Mid Atlantic, Rising Star Chef and Restaurateur of the Year. They are also consistently recognized among the best in the city in The Washington Post, Washingtonian, DC Modern Luxury, Forbes, CNN, Food & Wine, Washington Life and Capitol File. The Bombay Club, Rasika and Bibiana have each been named by Esquire among the Best New Restaurants in the USA, and Worth Magazine featured Bibiana as one of the Best Restaurants for Power Dining in May 2011.
Recognized as Washington’s leading host among power diners for exceptional food and service levels, in October 2009, Ashok was named as one of the 50 Most Powerful people in Washington by GQ magazine. The Washington Post featured him in the Style Section in February 2011 stating “And so it goes in the Empire of Ashok, a land of power dining and power appeasement that encompasses six see-and-be-seen restaurants, each with a distinct menu and vibe but a similar Ashokian polish.” City Paper named Ashok Best Restaurateur for 2010 and2011,and then in January 2012, Washingtonian magazine tapped Bajaj as Washington’s Restaurateur of the Year. Community minded, Bajaj presently serves on the board for Arena Stage and has served on the board of the Restaurant Association of Metropolitan Washington.