James Beard Award winner for outstanding restaurant (2022), Meherwan Irani is a storyteller as much as a chef, restaurateur, and food entrepreneur. His story is one of great risk and commitment, radical creativity and success, all starting with a huge leap of faith to open his award winning restaurant, Chai Pani, in 2009.
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Just like there’s no European food in Europe, there’s no Indian food in India. The first time Meherwan had Indian food was when he came to America. He was shocked and he vowed to change that. The story of Chai Pani.
No matter what your business is, you have to tell your story. Hear it from Meherwan‘s perspective.
Meherwan Irani is a chef and restaurateur changing the perception of Indian food in America through his growing restaurant and spice empire in the South’s most essential culinary cities. He is a leading voice in the industry’s conversation around diversity and cultural exchange. Meherwan was named by TIME Magazine as one of the “31 People Changing The South”, the 2022 James Beard award winner for Best Restaurant for his flagship Chai Pani, and a five-time James Beard Award semifinalist for Best Chef: Southeast.
Meherwan leads a team of more than 300 as Founder, Chef and CEO of Chai Pani Restaurant Group that includes Chai Pani Asheville, Chai Pani Decatur, Botiwalla Atlanta, Botiwalla Charlotte, Buxton Hall Barbecue, Buxton Chicken Palace, Nani’s Rotisserie Chicken in Asheville, Nani’s Piri Piri Chicken in Atlanta, and Spicewalla.
Meherwan grew up in Ahmednagar, in the midwestern state of Maharashtra in India, and he came to the U.S. at age 20. In 2009, he and his wife and business partner, Molly, introduced Asheville, North Carolina, to the colors, flavors and faces of India with Chai Pani.