Headed by Paul Nicaj, Battery Gardens holds true to its law on quality, standard and service. Paul worked with the Plaza for 28 years and at the Pierre for 6 before being invited to Battery Gardens by the Makkos Family Organization. Mr. Nicaj, the managing partner, directs a convivial, capable wait staff that exhibits pride in their products, from cocktails to crème brûlée. Executive Chef Ari Nieminen has a hand in the drink formulas as well as the food. Bloody Mary's, For example, go well beyond the norm via a blend of harissa, red pepper broth and lemongrass.
Executive Chef Ari Nieminen
Born in Finland and raised on a lakeside farm, Nieminen fished in pristine lakes, picked berries and grew vegetables for the table. This instilled in Chef Nieminen a culinary purity that as guided him from the simply prepared dishes of his youth to the sensual feasts he now creates as Executive Chef at Battery Gardens.
"At Battery Gardens, I draw inspiration from all my life's travels. However, the result is uniquely American in the sense that there is a natural diversity in combining fresh local fish, aromatic exotic spices & Mediterranean herbs and classic European techniques. I love taking these ingredients and finding the most delicate way to accentuate flavors and textures."
A graduate of the prestigious Culinary Institute of America, Chef Nieminen began his career at the Five Star, Five Diamond Four Seasons Hotel in New York City, where he quickly rose to head chef.
From the Four Seasons, he moved to the River Café where he worked with, designed & developed dazzling culinary creations with David Burke.
Quickly gaining attention, he moved to the opulent Russian-Inspired, Fire Bird Restaurant in New York as Executive Chef. The New York Times declared that Nieminen's "Flavors dance across the plate, an alternating pattern of sweet, savory & salty."
Most recently, as Executive Chef of the legendary Café Des Artistes and The Water's Edge, Nieminen again awed critics, locals & travelers from around the world with his masterful creations.
In the course of his career, Nieminen has been featured on numerous and international television shows including the Food Network and in publication such as Gourmet, The New York Times, Time Out New York, Food Arts and Gastronomica. Nieminen is a frequent featured Chef at The James Beard Foundation and teaches at cooking schools such as De Gustibus.