When chef Maneet Chauhan's tour bus rolled into Chicago earlier this month, it was a bit of a homecoming for her.
Chauhan led the kitchen at the Windy City's much-lauded Vermilion for years before heading east to duplicate the restaurant's Indian and Latin American fusion cuisine in the Big Apple. She also has family in the area.
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Since moving to New York, Chauhan has become a regular judge on Food Network's "Chopped," sharing insightful criticism and praise with the show's contestants.
When she stopped in Addison to judge a student culinary competition at the Technology Center of DuPage, I got a few minutes to chat with Chauhan about her new book "Flavors of My World: A Culinary Tour Through 25 Countries," her new restaurant and her future in television and radio.
First, her book, which truly seems like a labor of love. In the beautifully photographed pages, she takes readers on a journey through the countries that have inspired, and continue to inspire, her cooking. At each stop she shares two recipes: an entree, appetizer, dessert or street food, and a beverage.
"Drink and food go hand-in-hand," she says.
In Argentina, we get Chimichurri Seekh Kebabs (a marriage of the South American country's signature green sauce with her home country's ground meat skewers) and Jaggery Tamarind Caipirinha made with Brazilian spirits, sweet jaggery and tart tamarind.
Head to Hungary for goulash made with a curried palate of spices and paired with palinka, a Hungarian distilled fruit liqueur, that Chauhan muddles with cherries and garam masala and tops with Champagne for a Bollywood Cherry Palinka.
As exotic as the recipes sound, there is nothing far-reaching about the preparation. They are clearly written for home cooks and include notes to guarantee success.
Now, onto TV.
While Chauhan was in town for the culinary competition, a camera crew was documenting her (nearly) every move. Her business partner, Doug Singer, says they're taping a reality TV series that chronicles her life in and out of the kitchen, including plans to launch a restaurant in Nashville.
Why Nashville? "When I went to Nashville everyone was so nice, even the TSA agents are nice there," she says. Oh, and a large convention center is opening there shortly, and all those conventioneers will need to eat.
A network or air date for the TV show has not yet been named, but you can keep in the loop by heading to her website, maneetchauhan.com. She's also working on a culinary-themed show for the I Heart Radio network.
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