Raleigh man named NCRLA chef of the year

Raleigh man named NCRLA chef of the year


RALEIGH, N.C. — Saif Rahman is the executive chef at Vidrio, a Mediterranean restaurant in Downtown Raleigh, and he is now this year’s North Carolina Restaurant & Lodging Association’s top chef of the year.


What You Need To Know

  • Saif Rahman is the 2021 NCRLA chef of the year
  • Rahman has a passion for cooking with locally sourced ingredients
  • He is now one of six culinary ambassadors for the Got To Be NC program 

In August, he competed against 13 of the state’s best savory chefs in the 2021 NCRLA Chef Showdown, creating two unique and locally sourced dishes.

“There were super talented and amazing chefs. I don’t even know how I won, I just cooked, that’s all I did. I just cooked,” said Rahman. 

Rahman comes from a family of farmers, which led to a passion for home-grown food he’s had since he was a child. He traces his love for cooking back to his Bengali roots. Born in Bangladesh, and raised in New York City, his life ultimately brought him to Raleigh, N.C. 

Now that he calls the Tar Heel state home, he makes every effort to cook with the best ingredients that North Carolina has to offer. 

“We have everything from Sunburst Trout, Carolina Mountain Trout, to truffle farmers, bison farmers, the most beautiful rice… it’s incredible. I mean, I can go all day long,” said Rahman. 

Rahman is now one of six culinary ambassadors for the North Carolina Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services. The ambassadors serve as the culinary voice for the Got To Be NC program, whose goal is to develop and expand domestic and international markets for North Carolina’s food, fiber and forestry products. 

“I am so excited. As an ambassador, I want to showcase the unknown farmers growing these beautiful products. We don’t see much of that, we don’t see too many cooks talking about it, and I want to showcase these ingredients and the incredible work that they are doing,” said Rahman. 

Congratulations to all the 2021 NCRLA Chef Showdown winners: 

  • NCRLA chef of the year: Saif Rahman | Vidrio, Raleigh
  • NCRLA pastry chef of the year: Tiesha Whittaker | Buttermilk Boutique, Clayton
  • NCRLA mixologist of the year: Colleen Hughes
  • NCRLA distillery of the year: Sutler’s Spirits, Winston-Salem
  • People’s Choice savory chef: Matthew Rivers | Timberlake’s Restaurant at Chetola Mountain Resort, Blowing Rock
  • People’s Choice pastry chef: Savanna Brodar | Kimpton Tryon Park Hotel, Charlotte
  • People’s Choice specialty cocktail & distillery: David Schmidt representing Hackney Distillery
  • Runner-up for chef of the year: Chayil Johnson | Community Matters Cafe, Charlotte
  • Runner-up for pastry chef of the year: Gerald Hawkins Jr. | Gaston Country Club, Gastonia 
  • North Carolina Department of Agriculture culinary ambassador team: Saif Rahman, Tiesha Whittaker, Matthew Rivers, Savanna Brodar, Chayil Johnson, Gerald Hawkins Jr. 



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