Maneet Chauhan, who has become a popular figure on the Food Network after serving as an executive chef in Chicago and New York, is opening her first restaurant, and she has chosen to launch it in Nashville.
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 (pictured) is from India originally, and attended culinary school there and later at the Culinary Institute of America. She’s 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 an 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. 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.
• Guantanamera, a new restaurant specializing in Cuban and South American cuisine, has been quietly operating on Nolensville Pike since April 1, gearing up for a full opening in May.
Currently in limited hours in a soft opening phase, Guantanamera serves a “Cuban Meat and Three” menu Thursday through Saturday, and Latin American brunch on Sundays.
The space, which formerly held La Hacienda Marisqueria, has been spiffed up and a new bar installed. The menu features classic Cuban dishes like roast pork and fried plantains, and also South American specialties like arepas (corn cakes that can be stuffed with all manner of fillings).
Guantanamera Restaurant is located at 3744 Nolensville Pike; the phone number is 844-4114. Follow the restaurant on Facebook for updates and the grand opening schedule.
• Last week I told you about the new smoothie and juice bar The Urban Juicer on Eighth Avenue. Now Brentwood has a brand-new juice place. It’s called the Juice Bar, and my Scene colleague Lesley Lassiter reports that it’s the project of Vui Hunt, who formerly operated the cafe Veggieland in Atlanta. The menu focuses on juices and smoothies but also includes Hunt’s signature Vietnamese spring rolls.
The Juice Bar is at 128 Pewitt Drive in Brentwood.