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Forty Under 40 Award winner Q&A: Bardia Ilbeiggi

This year’s cohort of recipients will be celebrated at an event Feb. 7, 2024

BIV is recognizing Bardia Ilbeiggi, chef and owner of Delara Restaurant, and 39 other exceptional business leaders as part of the 2023 Forty Under 40 Awards cohort.

Longer Q&As with each recipient are included in BIV's annual Forty Under 40 Magazine (out in print Dec. 11). Award winners will be celebrated at an awards gala Feb. 7, 2024.

This profile may have been edited for length and clarity.

What career highlight are you most proud of?

I decided to follow my passion to become a chef at the age of 26. I moved to France, learned how to cook, worked at some great restaurants in Paris, Vancouver and Copenhagen and – after more than a decade of hard work and dedication – I was able to open my restaurant Delara, with a concept very close to my heart (modern Persian cuisine). I work very hard every day to make sure it succeeds.

What was your toughest business or professional decision?

Opening Delara despite all the risks: A new concept that hasn’t been done before, borrowing a large sum of money, operating during the pandemic, high rent and staff costs, low profit margins.

How do you lead?

With thoughtfulness and compassion. I always have to consider Delara and its wellbeing and I understand that the business will do well if the people working for me are also invested in its success. I try to instill in my team an awareness that everything we all do affects the business. I share my vision and goals with the team and get them on board. I try to have compassion and understanding that people have different capacities and skills, and that training is extremely important. We go through bumps together and come out stronger.

What is the biggest lesson you've learned in business?

One can’t do everything alone – surround yourself with people who can take on the areas you aren’t as expert in and learn to delegate well.

Best piece of advice ever received?

I was looking for a partner to be able to finance this project that is very personal to me. A fellow restaurateur suggested I consider sole ownership and try to work it out by getting loans and spending less. I think about it a lot, how I have such a specific vision for Delara and it has made it a better place with me as the only top-level decision maker.

What advice would you give your 20-year-old self?

Work at well-run organizations and stay there as long as you can to maximize your learning experience. Don’t worry as much about making money as you do about learning and improving.

What's left to accomplish?

Developing Delara so that it can sustain any financial hardship. Turn it into a nationally – and then globally – recognized  brand.

Is there anyone you would like to thank or acknowledge?

My family. Without their support, I couldn’t even dream of opening my dream restaurant.

Read Q&As with all 40 award recipients here. Tickets to the 2023 Forty Under 40 Awards gala on Feb. 7 are now available.