Nick Lama’s passion for food began at a young age while watching his mother and grandmother prepare dinner for their family and accompanying his father to work at his family’s seafood market. Cooking alongside his mother during his youth, Nick began to notice his love for entertaining with food. While going to work with his dad, he was able to see inside some of the famous kitchens of New Orleans, and experience the demanding schedule in the restaurant industry. When finishing high school, he considered going to culinary school, but was deterred from doing so by his family. They were concerned about the grueling schedule in a professional kitchen, so he went to college and graduated from the University of New Orleans with a B.S. in Finance.
After graduating, Nick 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. Soon after, Nick contacted a family friend, who was the chef at Muriel’s Jackson Square, about getting a job there to see if working in a professional kitchen was the right fit. Nick quickly moved up the ranks and found himself happy for the first time at work. After a year and a half, he decided to attend the French Culinary Institute. He moved himself and his wife, Melissa, to New York City where he attended school, staged in a few kitchens, and explored New York’s culinary scene. When Nick moved back to New Orleans, he began looking for a job that would help him continue to learn and challenge him. He remembered a dinner he had at Gautreau’s that was exceptional and decided to drop off his resume. Chef Sue Zemanick gave him a job and after two years he was promoted to Chef de Cuisine. While not at work, Nick enjoys spending his time with Melissa and his eight month old daughter, Sofia.