Best known as one of the panel of judges on the award-winning Food Network program, Chopped, Maneet
Chauhan’s energy and creativity, combined with polished culinary skills
and the courage to follow her passion, have proven to be the right
ingredients for success. In September 2014, Maneet partnered with North
Gulch Hospitality owners Moni Advani, London Parfitt, and Austin Ratliff
to open her first restaurant, Chauhan Ale & Masala House, a
microbrewery and gastropub with Indian influences, in Nashville, TN.
“From the moment I stepped foot in the Music City I’ve had a love affair
with the people and the burgeoning culinary scene,” she says. For the
position of chef de cuisine Maneet chose fellow alumni Vasisht
Ramasubramanian ’10 who previously worked at Jean-Georges Vongrichten’s
ABC Kitchen and ABC Cocina.
Her first cookbook, Flavors of My World, A Culinary Tour Through 25 Countries, was co-written with Doug Singer ’03 and released on May 1, 2013.
from Ludhiana, India, Maneet comes from a culture that stresses the
importance of education. She had to prove herself as a serious culinary
professional. “I chose an unconventional career path where the norm was
to become a doctor or an engineer,” she says. She credits her family’s
support for her success today. Maneet earned a bachelor’s degree in
hotel management from The Welcomegroup Graduate School of Hotel
Administration, and then interned at some of India’s finest hotels and
kitchens, including the Taj Group, Oberoi Hotels, and Le Meridian.
At the age of 20, Maneet continued her culinary education in 1998 by enrolling in The Culinary Institute of America’s baking and pastry arts associate degree program.
She knew instantly that she was in the right place—everyone was
passionate about cooking and food. “When I came to the Hyde Park campus
it was so different that it took me some time to adjust,” says Maneet.
“I made it a point to get involved in everything and anything. If anyone
needed a volunteer, I was there. The chef-instructors were always
looking for students to help with competitions and events. On the
weekends I would assist the continuing education classes. I applied to
be an RA. I was a tour guide, I was on the judiciary board, and editor
of the school paper.” Maneet graduated with top honors while earning
numerous service and scholastic achievement awards. “Being under the
same roof as 2,000 other people who were as passionate about food as I
was is an experience that still excites me when I reflect upon it. My
time at the CIA is very close to my heart.”
Maneet gained valuable culinary experience managing a family owned,
fine-dining Indian restaurant in Cherry Hill, NJ where she led a team
and doubled the restaurant’s capacity. But she wanted something more—a
place where she could apply her creativity and passion for cooking.
to take a chance, she jumped in her Mazda Miata and headed for Chicago.
She fell in love with the city and began her quest to find a job in a
dynamic and challenging environment. Maneet was pitted against 40 male
chefs for the executive chef position at Rohini Dey’s contemporary
Indian and Latin American fusion restaurant Vermillion. She prevailed
and was the restaurant’s opening chef. In 2007, Maneet moved to New York
City to open At Vermilion where she was nominated as the Best Import to
New York by Time Out magazine.
During her tenure with these landmark restaurants, they received exceptional reviews from Bon Appétit, USA Today, Time, Esquire, Travel & Leisure, Gourmet, Town & Country, Business Week, and O, The Oprah Magazine, as well as getting a stunning three-star review from the Chicago Tribune.
spending eight years leading the Vermilion kitchens in Chicago and New
York, Maneet ventured out on her own and founded Indie Culinaire, a
culinary event, consulting, and hospitality company. “My daughter was
born in 2011 and that was a real turning point for me,” Maneet says. “I
realized I wanted to see what was out in the world, to increase my
repertoire, and make it more interesting. That inspired me to start my
American Airlines recently asked Maneet to overhaul the menus served in premium cabins on U.S. outbound flights.
is an active supporter of CRY (Child Rights and You) and P.A.V.E.
(Partnerships for Action, Voices for Empowerment) and is involved with
mentoring youths through the education arm of the National Restaurant
Association’s Pro-Start program. Maneet was chosen as the only chef to
cook at the first ever Indiaspora Inaugural Ball, honoring the
re-election of President Barack Obama.
Being an executive chef is
as much about running a successful business as it is about pursuing a
passion for food. In addition to all the details of managing her new
restaurant, Maneet is constantly honing her culinary skills, perfecting
her trade, and challenging herself by adding new recipes to her
repertoire. The combination is her proven formula for success. That
success has taken her to become the only Indian female ever to compete
on Food Network’s Next Iron Chef in 2010 and as a contestant on the network’s Chopped All-Stars.
has established herself as a go-to figure when it comes to Indian
cuisine and spices, as evidenced by being invited to teach the
multinational audience of ABC's The View how to cook Indian food.