About Nao

It’s all about fire and heat at the CIA’s restaurant at the Pearl Brewery. At dinner, the open kitchen makes it easy for diners to experience the drama created by cooking with live fire. The contemporary menu offers creatively re-imagined dishes and a highly curated beverage program. This world-class restaurant is operated by students about to graduate from the CIA’s degree program. They work under the supervision of highly experienced chef-instructors and maître d’instructors.


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. 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 Fletcher, CHEMaître d’ Instructor Samantha Fletcher, CHE

Samantha Fletcher 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 Nao. She holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in communication from the University of Texas at San Antonio. Prior to joining the CIA faculty, Mrs. Fletcher 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 applied food studies, culinary science, food business management, and hospitality management; associate degrees in baking and pastry arts and culinary 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 innovators in every area of the food business. The CIA has locations in New York, California, Texas, and Singapore.