A celebrated Indian-origin chef and an Indian restaurant in North Carolina serving “innovative and affordable” street food have won the top honours at America’s most prestigious culinary awards that recognise exceptional talent in the food industry.
Chintan Pandya of the popular restaurant ‘Dhamaka’ in New York City won the James Beard Award for “Best Chef: New York State” while ‘Chai Pani’ in Asheville, North Carolina won the award for “Outstanding Restaurant” in the US on Monday.
The James Beard Awards, “considered to be among the nation’s most prestigious honours, recognise exceptional talent in the culinary and food media industries, as well as a demonstrated commitment to racial and gender equity, community, sustainability and a culture where all can thrive.”
Pandya is considered among the leading and most celebrated Indian chefs in the US and has several successful restaurants and eateries under his belt.
The ‘Chai Pani’ website states that the restaurant serves “Indian street food from five-time James Beard nominated chef Meherwan Irani.
During his acceptance speech at the awards ceremony, Pandya said it is “actually unbelievable and never imagined that I’ll stand here at any point of time.” In his acceptance speech at the award, Irani said that when he opened the Indian street food restaurant in Asheville, he had no formal culinary experience and had never managed a kitchen or restaurant.
“But the only guiding principle that we had was an Indian spiritual quote ‘Mastery and servitude’.