I spoke with her Wednesday evening after she spent the day scouting restaurant locations and working on plans with her Nashville business partners — Moni Advani, London Parfitt and Austin Ratliff, three entrepreneurs who co-own Anthem and Revelry.
“Moni approached me, and first I thought, ‘Nashville?’ But I never shut doors, I never don’t look,” Chauhan said. “I’d never been to Nashville, and now I love it.”
She added, “Opening my first place has to be with people I like, where it’s a passion, where the people really love food.”
The nightclub Anthem, and Revelry, a smaller restaurant within it, are located on 12th Avenue just north of Broadway in the Gulch, but Chauhan hasn’t yet finalized the neighborhood where her restaurant will be located.
Chauhan is from India originally, and attended culinary school there and later at the Culinary Institute of America. She was executive chef at Rohini Dey's Vermilion in Chicago and New York.
As for her approach, Chauhan is known for her omnivorous love of dishes from a variety of cultures, putting her own spin on recipes using her knowledge of Indian spices. A former Next Iron Chef competitor, she’s now judge on the Food Network’s Chopped.
The working title of her restaurant is Chauhan Ale & Masala House. She said it will be a microbrewery and gastropub, with Indian-inspired cuisine.
“Nashville is such a fun-loving city,” Chauhan said, adding that she was impressed by Nashville’s embrace of beer culture. She figures a “beautifully executed” gastropub could be a “big, big selling point” for Nashvillians.
Chauhan is having an incredibly busy spring. She just published her first cookbook, Flavors of My World: A Culinary Tour Through 25 Countries, co-written with her business manager Doug Singer and published by Favorite Recipes Press, an imprint of Nashville-based Southwestern Publishing Group. She’s in the midst of a 21-city bus tour across the U.S. to promote the book. She’s also being followed by a camera crew for a future reality TV series.
In Nashville this week, Chauhan made a book-signing appearance at Whole Foods in Green Hills and cooked a special dinner at Anthem. The dishes included Peruvian Ceviche with fenugreek and coriander, and her spicy vegetarian Tadka Walla Risotto. She also sampled some Nashville ambience by visiting the honky-tonks on Lower Broad.
The opening date for the Nashville restaurant isn’t set. Chauhan said she plans to start working on it after the book tour concludes, moving to Nashville in June with a goal of opening the restaurant by the end of the year.
A version of this post appeared in my Food Biz column in today's print edition of The City Paper, and online in the Nashville Post.