Maneet Chauhan Talks Family, Food, and How Traveling Has Influenced Her Culinary Career

The chef joins us for this week’s episode of Biscuits & Jam about culinary school, her cookbook, and Nashville.

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Maneet Chauhan
Photo: Amelia J. Moore Photography

In this week's episode, Sid Evans talks to the acclaimed chef and Chopped judge Maneet Chauhan about how she found her calling in Nashville, her upcoming book, and why traveling has been the greatest influence on her expansive culinary career.

If you're a fan of the Food Network program Chopped, you know Maneet Chauhan well for being a judge throughout the run of the show. Graduating at the top of her class from India's number one culinary school, she led kitchens in both New York and Chicago, before setting her sights on Nashville, to launch the Morph Hospitality Group with her husband Vivek. Now with four restaurants in Music City—each delivering different spins on American, Indian and Chinese cuisine—Maneet is set to release a new book this fall, full of recipes from every corner of her native country.

On Learning to Cook at an Early Age

"I think I started cooking in sixth or seventh grade. My mom was the main cook in the family until the time I started cooking... I was obsessed with desserts! I think the reason why was because I would see these pastries and cakes in books, but they weren't available in India. I wanted to learn something different."

On Realizing She Wanted to Go to Culinary School

"When I was in school, everybody knew about my obsession with cooking and food. So whenever our family friends would invite us to their house for dinner, they would call up my parents and say, you guys come around 7pm and send Maneet at around 3pm so that she can help us cook. I started realizing what a great connector food was... I realized, that I could do something that I love and people loved me for it. That was a no-brainer. But I grew up in a community where every kid was studying to be a doctor or an engineer. And if you're really thinking outside the box maybe an accountant. And there I was thinking of becoming a chef, which was barely acceptable in India at that time. On top of that being a girl and a chef... But, my parents were very supportive."

On Moving to Nashville

"My husband and I have always been wanderers, and we explore each and every opportunity that comes our way. It was love at first landing in Nashville, because as soon as we landed, not only did we fall in love with how beautiful the city and the area is, but also how welcoming the people are."

On Hot Chicken

"I love a good hot chicken! It needs to have all the criteria. It just cannot be hot. It needs to have other flavorings to it too. It needs to be crunchy and crispy and it needs to be succulent and moist inside, not over cooked."

On Her New Cookbook

In her new cookbook 'Chaat: Recipes From the Kitchens, Markets, and Railways of India' (available on October 6, 2020), Maneet Chauhan brings readers along on a delicious, vibrant, and personal journey sharing the flavors and cultures of Indian cuisine.

About Biscuits & Jam

In the South, talking about food is personal. It's a way of sharing your history, your family, your culture, and yourself. Each week Sid Evans, Editor in Chief of Southern Living, sits down with musicians and chefs to hear stories of how they grew up, what inspired them, and how they've been shaped by Southern culture. Sid will take us back to some of their most cherished memories and traditions, the family meals they still think about, and their favorite places to eat on the road.

For the full interview, download and listen to Maneet Chauhan on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, or everywhere podcasts are available.

Get a transcript of the full interview with Maneet Chauhan.

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