One of my guilty pleasures is that I can watch Food Network for hours at end. Whether it be Masterchef, Guy Fieri’s Diners, Drive In’s, and Dives, or even Beat Bobby Flay, but the one show that’s been monumental in my childhood has been Chopped. Whether it’s looking at how the chefs from all across the country present their skills through challenges, the unique food combinations they come up with, or the judge’s humor. Whenever I went on vacation with my family, Food Network is something we watched during the night after a long day out and about in the city and my eyes immediately go towards one of my favorite judges, Maneet Chauhan. From her fine techniques and incorporating Indian spices and flavors in everyday cooking, Maneet spices up all her dishes with her Chahuan touch. I’m so glad that I got the honor to interview one of my idols!
Interview with Maneet Chauhan
- When did your love for cooking begin? Do you remember one dish you used to cook with one of your parents? My love of cooking began at a young age when I used to make homemade (eggless) ice creams with my dad, which we churned with a ladle by hand! Also, I have fond memories of making Aloo Parantha with my mom.
- What’s one of your favorite dishes to cook? I love making Aloo Parantha because I’ve been doing it from a young age, and it’s my mom’s recipe, but even more so because my kids and husband love it.
- What does a day in the life of Maneet Chauhan look like? The restaurant industry can be chaotic and ever-changing and it is important that those immersed have a routine for stability. For me, it can be as small as waking up early to get my 10,000 steps, to cooking dinner with my husband and kids. Typically, I wake up and exercise, prepare breakfast for my children, get them ready for school, go to work, and then as a family, we cook dinner.
- How was the process of getting to be a judge on Chopped? I first competed on Iron Chef against Morimoto and was then invited to be on the next Iron Chef. After that Chopped invited me to be a guest judge and eventually a permanent judge – it’s now been 12 years!
- When did you start Chauhan Ale and Masala House?November 2014
- What do you love most about your business? What were some hardships you had to overcome? What I love most about my business is the people I work with and the people I meet along the way. Everyone on my team is family – we are a kooky, dysfunctional family but we have fun and love what we do. Through working in my restaurants, filming, and participating in different events I have the opportunity to meet people from all over the world and hear those stories and it’s just so wonderful. Lastly, being a chef gives a creative freedom like no other and it truly brings me joy.
- How did your family feel about your job choice? My family was very supportive even though it was an untraditional option in India. They just wanted me to be the best at it if I was going to be a chef.
- Any advice to aspiring chefs? Make sure that before you make a lifelong commitment to being in the industry, spend a couple of months staging because it’s not a job, it’s a lifestyle. It’s a tough industry, so don’t get bogged down by every day, instead, constantly look at the big picture. What does the final plate (end goal) need to look like? Love what you’re doing. Surround yourself with people who support you and who see your vision. Your technique needs to be a solid foundation. Get educated on skills and techniques. Whether it be formal or working at a restaurant and gaining the first-hand experience
- Bonus: What’s your favorite Bollywood movie? I love so many but if I had to choose I would pick Rang de Basanti
- What are some Covid hobbies that you’ve picked up with your kids and husband? At my house, Vivek and I will have the kids point their finger on a globe and then we will make dinner from that country. It makes it fun and it turns into a game for the kids. After the country is selected, we will all do a bunch of research on the country and get to cooking, It has definitely been one of our favorite things this year