Hailing from Calcutta, India, Shiva Natarajan grew up in a household where his grandmother Savitri Amma was constantly cooking for family, friends and the homeless. Upon moving to New York City as a young man, Natarajan acted on his avid passion for food and hospitality – embarking on a mission to showcase the delicious regional intricacies of the Indian culinary landscape. He opened Chola in 1998 to a 2-star New York Times review by Ruth Reichl, with a heading “An Indian Restaurant Breaks the Mold,” paving the way for his other iconic restaurants, Dhaba, Chote Nawab, Thelewala and Malai Marke.
In his 18 years as a restauranteur and chef, Natarajan has opened over a dozen fine-dining Indian restaurants, as well as Thai and Mexican restaurants across New York and Connecticut.
His fine-dining empire has been lauded by the New York Times, NY magazine, Michelin Guide, Zagat, Time Out and Gourmet magazine, as well as ABC, NBC, FOX, and the Martha Stewart Show. Several Bollywood and Hollywood celebrities frequently dine in his restaurants as well.
After selling his restaurants, Natarajan is currently working on a cookbook and a line of sauces.