Meherwan Irani has been nominated or been the recipient of several awards so far. He and Chai Pani co-founder Molly, were present at the award ceremony. (photo @beardfoundation)
ASHEVILLE, NC – Chai Pani, which serves affordable Indian street food in North Carolina, was declared the best restaurant in America on June 13, by the James Beard Foundation’s Restaurant and Chef Awards in a live ceremony held at the Lyric Opera in Chicago.
Chai Pani’s owners, chef Meherwan Irani and wife Molly were present to receive the award and were seen hugging each other on being declared the winners.
The Outstanding Restaurant award is given to one that “demonstrates consistent excellence in food, atmosphere, hospitality, and operations while contributing positively to its broader community.”
Indian American Chintan Pandya of Dhamaka restaurant in New York city, won the Best Chef award at the ceremony that was held after the forced pandemic break.
Nominees this year also was also an acknowledgment to represent the diversity that makes up America’s food scene as well as to not focus as in the past, on geographic areas like just New York, Boston or Chicago.
“Restaurants are so much greater than the sum of what’s inside the four walls. A restaurant has the power to transform the people that work there, transform the people that come in, transform the communities we are in, transform society. Restaurants can transform the world,” Meherwan Irani said at the ceremony.
The menu at Chai Pani is known for its street food items. Chaat and tikkis and pakoras dominate along with South Indian thalis.
The restaurant was established by the Iranis in 2009. They now are in seven locations, including in Georgia. Their condiments Spicewalla is a hit with other chefs and is used regularly in many kitchens across the country.