Award-winning Chef Victor Albisu, BA Politics and International Relations ’99, has cooked around the world, but the George Mason University community is home, where he created memories and found his true calling.
Victor Albisu has long been a major player in the Washington, D.C., region’s culinary scene. The restaurateur’s areas of specialty span fine dining of French, American, and Latin American cuisine. His Taco Bamba taqueria is so popular that it continues to expand to its tenth location, with one of its restaurants at University Mall right across from George Mason University’s Fairfax Campus. Prior to opening his upscale Mexican restaurant Poca Madre in 2018, he served as executive chef of BLT Steak in downtown Washington, D.C., where he cooked for esteemed guests such as President Barack Obama and Michele Obama. He has even cooked at the White House during the administrations of Presidents Obama and George W. Bush. Among his other accolades are being named Chef of the Year in 2015 and being nominated Restaurateur of the Year in 2019, both by the Restaurant Association of Metropolitan Washington (RAMW). Before he graduated from the Le Cordon Bleu School in Paris, he earned his bachelor of arts in politics and international relations from George Mason University, an institution that he credits for molding much of his career.
Albisu’s time studying politics and international relations at Mason were formative years in his life. He really wanted to be a diplomat, and his studies brought him to Oxford, Paris, Amsterdam, and Rotterdam. “My Mason education has informed the rest of my experiences in my life,” he says. “I became a diplomat. It just took a different avenue.” He thoroughly enjoyed his time abroad. In fact, after graduating from Le Cordon Bleu, he remained for a time in Paris to cook at L’Arpege. His cuisine reflects that international influence, including his Cuban and Peruvian heritage. But as comfortable as he is in other countries, Albisu greatly values his place in the community surrounding Fairfax, Virginia.
Each restaurant location holds a special place for Albisu, but the Taco Bamba in Fairfax helped him become a fixture in the Mason community that he treasures. “I used to go to University Mall all the time when I was at Mason, and I wanted to give the students something that was theirs,” he says. “In my personal experience, it’s been one of the cooler things that we’ve been able to do.” Taco Bamba offers a different menu at each one of its locations, customized to the region it serves. Their team of chefs are constantly evolving and creating new dishes, which has resulted in their patrons becoming avid fans of the Taco Bamba brand, eagerly anticipating the latest and greatest menu items.
This past February, Albisu was a featured speaker at The Future of WORK+SPACE: Transforming the Office Market, a conference hosted by the George Mason University Center for Real Estate Entrepreneurship and the American Institute of Architects DC. On stage he discussed “What Does Hybrid Work Mean for Retail” with George Mason University Center for Retail Transformation Director Gautham Vadakkepatt. “I really enjoyed sharing my perspective from my journey and my brand’s growth,” he says. “It was extra special that it was affiliated with Mason, and it was hopefully the first of many opportunities to work directly with Mason.” George Mason University is where Victor Albisu formed many cherished memories, and his restaurants have since become a part of the fabric of the community, bringing his journey full circle. He’s a leader, delighted to share his knowledge and his food with the students of today.