When Chef Maneet Chauhan and her husband, Vivek Deora, decided to open a restaurant in Nashville, she had no plans of actually living there. The Food Network star planned on commuting between Nashville and New York City, where she and her family resided, while they operated Chauhan Ale & Masala House, until an unexpected medical emergency forced her to reconsider her plans.
“As luck would have it, the day we opened the restaurant, our son decided to be born,” Chauhan recalls to Southern Living. “He was three months premature… We said that if he was so adamant on being a Nashvillian, who were we to stop it?”
Chauhan might still have decided to return to New York City, but the support she and her family received convinced her to make Nashville their permanent home.
“We were starting a new business with a baby in the neonatal ICU. It’s a very emotional time for a parent,” Chauhan recalls. “The way the entire city rallied around us was heartwarming, so I think that’s the time we were like, ‘Okay, we have arrived home.'”
Chauhan, who went on to open three more restaurants with the hospitality group she co-founded — Tánsuŏ, The Mockingbird, and Chaatable — felt instantly at home in Music City, which is a sharp contrast to other places she has lived.
“When you come from big cities like New York and Chicago, you do not see a lot of this — the camaraderie, the feeling of belonging, the sense that the culinary industry is a fraternity and we are here to support each other. I see that every day,” Chauhan reflects. “It’s incredible. It actually helps you become so much better as a chef and as a person. That’s what I love about Nashville. Not only have I seen myself growing as a chef, but I’ve also seen myself growing as a human being.”
Even before Chauhan Ale & Masala House opened, the India native had a feeling the new restaurant would be well received.
“There was nothing here like what we were planning to do at Chauhan Ale & Masala House. We thought it would be a successful venture,” Chauhan recalls, adding that the local chefs were very welcoming. “They were like, ‘Come on over.”
Chauhan Ale & Masala House is located at 123 12th Avenue North in Nashville.