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MANEET CHAUHAN


PROFILE Maneet


at-a-glance Age: 37


Favourite kitchen ‘toy’: microplane, for grating spices such as ginger and garlic


Favourite spice: fresh turmeric Volunteering: ProStart mentor Philanthropy:


Active supporter of CRY (Child Rights and


You) and PAVE (Partnerships for Action, Voices for Empowerment), Longest


restaurant tenure:


Vermilion, Chicago


Highest honour: chosen as the


only chef to cook at the Indiaspora Inaugu ral Ball celebrating the re-election of


President Barack Obama


First ever: Indian woman chef to compete on The Iron Chef


Indie Culinaire


The birth of her daughter, Shagun, now just over two years old, changed things for Chauhan. “I decided to venture off on my own then, but I didn’t slow down; I don’t want to give her the impression my life stopped because of her or think she couldn’t do anything she wants,” she says.


And it didn’t slow down. In fact, quite the opposite. Chauhan immediately started Indie Culinaire, a culinary consulting company, with her husband, Vivek, a veteran restaurateur. Through that company she launched a spice line. And just last year, released her fi rst cookbook, Flavors of My World, which involved a countrywide book tour meeting people and cooking pop-up dinners. Like many celebrity chefs, Chauhan burst into a more national scene through some key TV appearances, competing as the fi rst Indian woman on The Iron Chef and The Next Iron Chef, and serving as a judge on The Food Network’s Chopped and Chopped All-Stars


series. Aside from articulate speech, ease under pressure and an impressive speed-chopping ability, the almond-shaped eyes, shiny dark hair and pretty cheekbones don’t hurt. “The most fun thing about Chopped is that


it’s a show that transcends age, economic background and really, everyone enjoys it,” says Chauhan. The perfect platform to educate others about Indian cuisine.


“One of the big misconceptions about Indian cuisine is that it’s too spicy or requires so many ingredients in the pantry,” she says. “I want people to really understand that great Indian food is not an $8.95 all-you-can-eat buffet or something that will sit in your stomach for the next few days. I grew up with Indian food that’s beautiful, simple and delicious. People forget that you can put an Indian twist on just about any other food.” She once made a Greek spanakopita with paneer, a classic Indian cheese, and risotto spiked with mustard seeds, curry and fresh herbs.


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