Chef Profile : Maneet Chauhan
Indian-born chef Maneet Chauhan has been passionate about food since childhood. As a restaurateur, she has brought her skills to cities across America, and in her many television appearances, Maneet has charmed audiences with her delightful personality and unique take on global fusion. Through her restaurants, TV appearances, and cookbooks, Maneet Chauhan has already amassed a formidable legacy – and she’s still going strong.
- Quick Facts About Maneet Chauhan
- About Maneet Chauhan's Early Life
- About Maneet Chauhan's Career
- How Maneet Got Her Start
- Television Shows
- Media Appearances
- Maneet Chauhan's Personality
- Charity Work
- Fun Facts About Maneet Chauhan
- Social Presence
- Frequently Asked Questions
1. Quick Facts About Maneet ChauhanName: Maneet Chauhan
Date of birth: October 27, 1976
Birthplace: Ranchi, India
Spouse: Vivek Deora
- Chauhan Ale and Masala House
- The Mockingbird
2. About Maneet Chauhan's Early Life
Maneet Chauhan was born in Ranchi, a town in northeastern India. She loved to cook from an early age. In an interview with Southern Living, Maneet stated that she started cooking in seventh grade and quickly took over her mother’s role as the household’s main cook.
Foreshadowing her signature global fusion style, Maneet was fascinated not only by her native Punjabi cuisine but also by food from different regions of India and the rest of the world, as well.
She often experimented with baking the kind of elaborate pastries and desserts that she saw in books, but couldn’t buy in India. In interviews, Maneet recalls tricking her neighbors, a family from Southern India, into sharing their meals by telling them that her parents hadn’t given her anything to eat. She relished the flavors and dishes that she tried at their dinner table, which were different from the ones she ate at home.
Always eager to learn, she frequently watched friends and family members cook, always asking why they were using specific spices or techniques.
While she was born into a culture that valued education, Maneet admitted that deciding to study the culinary arts was an unexpected move. “I chose an unconventional career path where the norm was to become a doctor or an engineer,” she said in an interview. However, her family supported her ambitions, and she credits them for her success.
At the time, there were no culinary schools in India, so Maneet studied at Welcomgroup Graduate School of Hotel Administration with a focus on kitchens and cuisine. While there, she worked in the kitchens of the top hotels in India, including hotels from the Taj Group, Sheraton Group, and Oberoi Hotels.
3. About Maneet Chauhan's Career
As a woman, Maneet had to fight for her place in the male-dominated culinary world. While getting her degree, she was often the only woman in the professional kitchens where she trained. Maneet discovered that, particularly in India, male chefs did not take her seriously.
In an interview with StyleBlueprint, Maneet stated “As a woman, no one took you seriously. Everyone said ‘Oh, this is your hobby. You will get married and leave.’” Despite the discrimination she experienced, Maneet thrived, and eventually graduated top of her class.
However, Maneet had global ambitions. After an instructor told her that the Culinary Institute of America was the best culinary school in the world, she traveled to New York to study there. She graduated with top honors.
4. How Maneet Got Her Start
After finishing her studies at the Culinary Institute of America, Maneet moved from the East Coast to Chicago. There, she found herself the only woman among 40 male chefs vying for the position of Executive Chef at Rohini Dey’s restaurant, Vermilion. She got the position and quickly made her mark. Vermillion’s signature fusion of Latin and Indian fare suited Maneet’s style, and her work there earned her three stars from the Chicago Tribune.
Soon, she helped open another branch of the restaurant in New York, to much acclaim. Thanks to her work at the New York branch, Maneet was nominated as “Best Import to New York” by Time Out magazine and earned accolades from numerous other publications. While still juggling work in restaurant kitchens, Maneet started to appear on TV. Her appearances on The Iron Chef and as a judge on Chopped brought her national attention.
Once she gained national attention, Maneet started getting offers to open restaurants from all over the country. While initially hesitant, Maneet accepted an offer to open a restaurant in music city – Nashville, Tennessee. Though Maneet was pregnant at the time, she began splitting time between Nashville and New York with her husband, Vivek Deora, and young daughter.
On the day her restaurant opened, Maneet prematurely went into labor with her son. Despite spending time in the hospital, Maneet was back in her restaurants working as soon as she could. Thanks to her hard work, the restaurant, Chauhan Ale, and Masala House, thrived.
In an interview with Nashville Eater, Maneet’s husband, Vivek Deora said that “Nashville embraced us from the start. We were blown away by the love and support we received.” Since then, Maneet and Vivek have continued to open restaurants in Nashville, giving the city a taste of world-class global cuisine.
Chef Maneet Chauhan opened her first restaurant, Chauhan Ale and Masala House, in 2014. Since then, she has opened three more restaurants in Nashville under the Morph Hospitality Group, which she runs with her husband.
True to her childhood fascination with global cuisine, Maneet is famous for blending foods from a wide variety of cultures into her signature fusion style. Her restaurant's blend flavors from the United States, China, and Latin America, as well as her native India.
Under the Morph Hospitality Group, Maneet oversees four restaurants. She is executive chef at Chauhan Ale and Masala House, which features Indian food with a touch of inspiration from the American South. Tánsuŏ serves dim sum and modern takes on traditional Chinese cuisine. The Mockingbird is an upscale diner, where guests can find classic American fare with a touch of global fusion. Chaatable, Maneet’s most recent venture, serves dishes based on the Indian street food she grew up with.
She was also involved in the since-closed Mantra Artisan Ales brewery.
6. Television Shows
Before appearing on national TV shows, Maneet was a regular on local shows. However, in 2010, Chef Chauhan broke into the national scene when she was invited to appear as a contestant on Iron Chef America.
On Iron Chef America, she competed against acclaimed Japanese chef Masaharu Morimoto. While she lost her battle against Morimoto, Maneet said that it was an “honor” to compete against him. She went on to compete again in The Next Iron Chef the same year. Soon after, she started her recurring role as a judge on the hit Food Network show 'Chopped'.
Since then, she’s appeared in over 150 episodes and multiple spin-offs, including Chopped Sweets, Chopped After Hours, and Chopped Junior. Her work on Chopped has earned her the prestigious James Beard Award.
Chef Chauhan has also appeared as a judge on America’s Worst Cooks. She’s worked with Guy Fieri as both a judge and competitor on Guy’s Grocery Games. After Covid-19 shut down her Nashville restaurants, she was featured in the documentary Restaurant Hustle 2020: All on the Line, which documented how four restaurateurs across America adapted to the pandemic.
Most recently, she has appeared as a contestant on the Food Network show Tournament of Champions. She was crowned champion of the second season.
Maneet is sometimes confused with fellow Indian celebrity chef and Food Network star Aarti Sequeira. Aarti cleared up the confusion in an Instagram post, stating that while they are not the same person, they are “sisters from another mister.”
Flavors of My World: A Culinary Tour Through 25 Countries
Published in 2013, Maneet’s first cookbook, Flavors of My World stays true to her lifelong obsession with global cuisine. The book features both food and drink recipes from around the world, often with a touch of inspiration from Indian cuisine.
Chaat : Recipes from the Kitchens, Markets, and Railways of India: A Cookbook
Inspired by a culinary tour Maneet took across the subcontinent, Chaat features a wide variety of iconic Indian recipes. Published in 2020 and co-authored by acclaimed cookbook author Jody Eddy, Chaat was widely praised and named one of the best cookbooks of the year by several publications.
Chef Maneet also contributed to The Journey, a digital cookbook featuring four female chefs. Her work appears alongside recipes from Alex Raij, Katy Sparks, Rita Sodi.
8. Media Appearances
Maneet frequently writes recipes for publications like The New York Times, New York Post, Bon Appétit, Saveur, and Food & Wine.
She tried her hand at acting in the 2020 romantic comedy The Secret Ingredient, where she plays herself.
9. Maneet Chauhan's Personality
Being a professional chef can be a fiercely competitive career, but even in her chosen field, Maneet stands out for her work ethic. She works long hours to balance her family, television appearances, and restaurant work – while still finding time to participate in charities and nonprofits.
Maneet’s passion for food is evident whenever she cooks. In videos, she lights up in front of the stove, expertly blending herbs and spices with a wide smile on her face.
In her TV appearances, Maneet is known for being a sympathetic judge. In an interview with Cosmopolitan, she said, “Whenever I’m giving feedback, I think twice before I’m extremely harsh because this is not an easy competition. So I try to give a lot more constructive criticism as opposed to, “This sucks.”
10. Charity Work
Maneet supports CRY (Child’s Rights and You), which supports children’s rights in India. Maneet is also an active supporter of March of Dimes, the American Cancer Society, and P.A.V.E. (Partnerships for Action, Voices for Empowerment). She has hosted a variety of charity dinners. A proponent of culinary education, Maneet frequently mentors young culinary professionals.
After the Covid-19 closed down restaurants in Nashville, Maneet organized a food drive for restaurant workers who had been laid off due to the pandemic. She also served as an advisory board member for Nashville's Covid-19 Response Fund. True to her unrelenting work ethic, Maneet has stated that she says “yes” to whatever nonprofit work comes her way.
11. Fun Facts About Maneet Chauhan
- True to her determined and passionate nature, Maneet is a Scorpio.
- She was the first Indian woman to appear on The Iron Chef.
- She loves a good glass of wine – when attempting to lose weight, she made sure to “budget” enough calories for wine every day.
- Maneet is sometimes nicknamed “The Dancing Spice Queen.”
- In 2014, she was invited to the annual White House Easter Egg Roll by president Barack Obama.
- Maneet grew up in a Sikh household.
- She loves the Culinary Institute and describes it as her “playground.”
- She has worked with American Airlines to develop menus for their flights.
- After filming, Maneet hid her Tournament of Champions win from her children. When they found out she’d won, they were thrilled.
- She loves hot chicken – but it needs to be perfectly done!
- As a child, her cooking abilities became so legendary that family friends would ask her to help out before dinner parties.
12. Social Presence
Maneet frequently posts updates about her work and family on social media, along with the occasional recipe. You can find her on Instagram, Twitter, or Facebook.
13. Frequently Asked Questions
Where does Maneet Chauhan currently live?
Maneet Chauhan currently lives in Nashville, Tennessee with her husband and two children.
Who is Maneet Chauhan's husband?
Maneet Chauhan is married to restaurateur and entrepreneur Vivek Deora, who serves as CEO of Morph Hospitality, which they founded together. The couple met in college and spent years in a long-distance relationship.
Why did Maneet Chauhan move to Nashville?
Maneet moved to Nashville to open her first restaurant, Chauhan Ale & Masala House. While she was initially hesitant to move from New York, she quickly fell in love with the city.
Did Maneet Chauhan win?
While Maneet suffered a loss during her first national TV appearance on The Iron Chef, she has been given the opportunity to prove herself in other shows. Most recently, she competed against 16 other chefs to win the Food Network show Tournament of Champions II.
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Written by Cassie WomackBased in Richmond, Virginia, Cassie enjoys trying challenging new recipes with her cat for company.