Chef Bazirgan was the chef de cuisine at No 9 Park when Nicolai started his apprenticeship there. Nicolai recalls how over his head he was not knowing what parsley was or even how to hold a knife. However, to Chef Bazirgan Nicolai's attitude was enough to push and motivate him into a better cook. A year later Nicolai was promoted to sous chef at B&G Oysters and Chef Bazirgan moved to San Francisco who quickly became a SF Chronicle Rising Star.
Nicolai grew up in Half Moon Bay and spent many weekends in San Francisco. He always desired to live in te city, so when returning from Spain, San Francisco was an easy choice. It was about eight years after Boston in 2009 that Bazirgan hired Nicolai as his sous chef at Chez Papa Resto.
A year later Chef Bazirgan and Nicolai took over the kitchen at the prestigious Fifth Floor Restaurant. While there a circle was completed when Nicolai was promoted to chef de cuisine by his first chef de cuisine.
Chef Bazirgan's mentorship has meant a great deal to Nicolai's food and management styles.