About Nao

Imagination is key to the exploration of Latin American cuisine and beverages at Nao Latin Gastro Bar. Every day is a culinary adventure and an opportunity to share a meal, a story, and the company of good friends. Come savor the excitement at Nao!


Our Team

Chef-Instructor Justin Ward, CEC, CHEChef-Instructor Justin Ward ’88, CEC, CHE

Justin Ward is a lecturing instructor of culinary arts at The Culinary Institute of America (CIA), where he teaches culinary arts courses, including both the Contemporary and Formal Restaurant Cooking courses that takes place in Nao Latin Gastro Bar. Prior to joining the CIA staff, he was chef/owner of Hungry Monkey Catering and Harvest Restaurant both in Atlanta, GA; Cosecha Restaurant in Decatur, GA; and executive chef at Chefs’ Café, Chefs’ Grill, and the Ocean Club in Atlanta. He is a 1988 graduate of the CIA.


Maître d’ Instructor Samantha Burgess, CHEMaître d’ Instructor Samantha Burgess, CHE

Samantha Burgess is in charge of front-of-the-house service at Nao. In her role as lecturing instructor at The Culinary Institute of America (CIA), she teaches both the Contemporary and Formal Hospitality and Service Management courses, which take place in the Nao Latin Gastro Bar. She holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in communication from the University of Texas at San Antonio. Prior to joining the CIA faculty, Mrs. Burgess was restaurant guest service manager for Disney Vacation Club at Disney’s Vero Beach Resort and for the Norway and United Kingdom Pavilions at EPCOT in Orlando.



The Culinary Institute of AmericaFounded in 1946, The Culinary Institute of America is the world’s premier culinary college. Dedicated to developing leaders in foodservice and hospitality, the independent, not-for-profit CIA offers bachelor’s degree majors in management, culinary science, and applied food studies; associate degrees in culinary arts and baking and pastry arts; and executive education through its Food Business School. The college also offers certificate programs and courses for professionals and enthusiasts. Its conferences and consulting services have made the CIA the think tank of the food industry and its worldwide network of 49,000 alumni includes leaders in every area of food business. The CIA has campuses in New York, California, Texas, and Singapore.