Ashok Bajaj has owned and operated award-winning restaurants in London and the United States for over 25 years. Born in New Delhi, India, Bajaj earned 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 with Taj Hotels, Resorts and Palaces, which relocated him to London, Bajaj took some time to travel to Sydney, Australia, before choosing his next step, which was to found Knightsbridge Restaurant Group, in the nation’s capital in 1988. He has opened several highly successful landmark restaurants in DC, including the polished power dining oasis, The Oval Room and leading four-star Rasika. Most recently in August 2016, Bajaj merged Ardeo+Bardeo into one restaurant and bar, giving him the space to open his casual Indian street food and craft cocktails oasis, Bindaas, meaning carefree like the concept itself. The restaurant quickly earned high praise in The Washington Post’s Fall Dining Guide as one of the best in the city, and it garnered 3 stars (out of four) in the November 2016 issue of Washingtonian.
Bajaj’s collection of power, neighborhood and fine dining establishments captured 10 RAMMY nominations from Restaurant Association of Metropolitan Washington in 2012, and Rasika captured Chef of the Year. Then in 2013, Bajaj won Restaurateur of the Year and was named Washington Business Journal’s Most Admired CEO. His restaurants have also been consistently nominated for prestigious awards by the James Beard Foundation, including Best Chef-Mid Atlantic, Rising Star Chef, Outstanding Restaurant and Restaurateur of the Year. Rasika’s Group Executive Chef Vikram Sunderam captured the James Beard Foundation’s Best Chef Mid-Atlantic in May 2014. Recognized among the best in the city, his restaurants are often featured in The Washington Post, Washingtonian, DC Modern Luxury, Forbes, CNN, Food & Wine, Washington Life and Capitol File. The Bombay Club, Rasika and Bibiana Osteria-Enoteca 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 and 2011, and then in January 2012, Washingtonian magazine tapped Bajaj as Washington’s Restaurateur of the Year. In November 2012, Washington Business Journal included Bajaj in its list of Washington’s 100 Most Powerful Leaders. Next The New York Times featured Ashok in August, 2013 in an article titled “Right This Way, Senator” highlighting his achievements as the “New Delhi-born restaurateur masters power dining in D.C.” In October 2012 and again in 2013, Bajaj was named among the “Power 100,” as one of the region’s most influential business leaders by Washington Business Journal. Next, he captured the TiE DC Legends Award from Indus Entrepreneurs in 2014. Then in December 2015, Washington’s Downtown BID announced its 2015 Momentum Award winners, with Ashok Bajaj being named “Person of the Year” for his contributions to the city.
Community minded, Bajaj has served on the board of the Restaurant Association of Metropolitan Washington and presently serves on the board for Arena Stage and on the Golden Triangle board.