Chef Maneet Chauhan Shares the Wisdom She Learned From Her Mother
“She gave me a lifetime of advice, but the most important thing she told me was that being a girl, being a woman, was my biggest strength and to use it accordingly.”
Long before she was a celebrity chef whose days involve juggling frequent Food Network appearances, four award-winning Nashville restaurants, and two breweries—not to mention a marriage and two young children—Maneet Chauhan was a wide-eyed daughter on the other side of the world, taking in everything her mother and grandmothers had to teach her.
“I grew up in India, and it was a completely different social platform. Being a girl was a disadvantage there,” Maneet says. Her mother, Hardeep Chauhan, did not agree. “She gave me a lifetime of advice, but the most important thing she told me was that being a girl, being a woman, was my biggest strength and to use it accordingly,” she says. Her mother was one of few women in her social set who worked in the community, as principal of a school. Maneet’s grandmothers, too, were unusually dynamic. They came to India from Pakistan after the Partition, having left everything they had established behind. “Those were the stories I grew up on, of strong women who overcame adversities and flourished,” Maneet says.
Five years ago, Maneet and her husband moved from New York City to Nashville. The formality of Southern manners and the profuse vegetation of the city conjure her birthplace, making her feel at home, she says. She’s tried to funnel her mother’s advice to her daughter, Shagun, 8—not just the idea but the reality that women are invincible and that she shouldn’t be fazed by challenges.
When Shagun is at school, her teachers sometimes tell her they had an amazing time at one of her mother’s restaurants. “She is so proud at those moments,” notes Maneet. “Or when she sees me on TV. ‘Mommy, that’s you!’ she says, and I can see the pride.”
But just in case Shagun misses the real point of having a lot of exposure to her mom’s high-powered life, Maneet reminds her daughter daily: “Every morning, when I drop her off at school, there’s one phrase I tell her. ‘I love you, and there are no problems but only...’ And Shagun says, ‘Solutions!’ ”