Executive Chef Ayman Mustafa
Ambassador Grill & Lounge has the unique privilege of hosting delegates, diplomats, and guests from across the globe on a daily basis. As the hotel’s Executive Chef, Ayman Mustafa artfully reflects the property’s cosmopolitanism through his inventive cuisine.
Mustafa was born and raised in Amman, Jordan, where he grew up enjoying the fruits and vegetables grown in the backyard gardens throughout his neighborhood. His upbringing continues to be a major influence on his culinary philosophy, which centers on seasonality and locality. “I’m thankful for where I grew up because each season brought different things—fresh figs and peaches, cucumbers and cauliflower, tomatoes and green almonds. Watching things grow and eating with the seasons, you know what pairs well together and value quality ingredients,” he states.
After graduating from culinary school Mustafa worked at renowned hotels in Jordan, then immigrated to New Orleans, USA in 2005. Weeks after his arrival the city was hit by Hurricane Katrina: both his apartment and the hotel where he worked were destroyed. With no home to return to after the storm, he abandoned the car he was living in and joined a train crew clearing debris off the railroad tracks in southern Louisiana. For two weeks Mustafa worked 18 hour days serving meals to the 150 men crew. Afterward he made his way to Jackson, Mississippi, where he received a job as a line cook at the storied Edison Walthall Hotel and began teaching himself English in his spare time. Just six months later, he was promoted to banquet chef of the property and purchased his first home. “Katrina changed my life,” he recalls. “All that I went through, it taught me to appreciate everything and have no fear.”
Mustafa joined the Hilton family in 2016, as the Chef de Cuisine at Curio Diplomat Resort & Spa in Hollywood, Florida, then served as Executive Sous Chef at Hilton Atlanta. When the Executive Chef position became available in 2018, it was a natural fit. “Chef Mustafa’s ability to look at food through the lens of diversified traditions made him a perfect candidate,” says Thom Caska, Hotel Manager. “He strives not just to make food that satisfies the human need, but to understand the heart behind the traditions, region, and people who create cuisines from around the world.”
As a new New Yorker, Mustafa enjoys exploring different restaurants in the city—particularly the sushi options. He lives in Jersey City Heights with his wife and young son.