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TOP OF THE CLASS W


Maneet Chauhan’s passion for food has taken her from India to the US where she has garnered a slew of awards and honours. She talks to Amelia Levin about creating her own take on Indian cuisine


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hen she was a child, Indian-born Maneet Chauhan would sneak into her neighbours’ kitchens to watch them cook and try their


food from all different Indian regions, telling them “much to the embarrassment of my parents,” she wasn’t fed at home.


The passion for food and the dream to be a professional chef dates back as far as she can remember. Now, 37, with two restaurants and another on the way, a cookbook, spice line and plenty of television appearances under her belt, she’s made this whole “woman in a man’s world” thing look like a piece of cake – or gulab. To tell the truth, Maneet Chauhan (pronounced Show-Hahn) did have an uphill battle as an aspiring chef in a country where women were always in the kitchen, but only the men cooked professionally – if they didn’t become doctors and engineers.


“I realised that food is the one thing that brought people together and gives people so much happiness,” says Chauhan, whose mother claims she was born with a ladle in her hand (in a small village in Punjab). Her parents supported her dream regardless, with the proviso that she should become the best chef she could be. “I held that mantra close to me,” she says. With that in mind, she applied to India’s top culinary and hotel management school, the Welcomgroup Graduate School of Hotel Administration, since culinary schools didn’t exist


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