Meherwan Irani

Asheville, NC Chai Pani Restaurant Group

A two-time James Beard Award semi-finalist, Meherwan Irani was born in London but moved to India at age four. He came to the United States in 1990 to earn a MBA and spent 10 years in a sales career in the SF Bay area.

In 2009, Irani quit his day job to open his first restaurant – Chai Pani, a unique Indian street food eatery in downtown Asheville, NC. Whether it was a midlife crisis or a stroke of genius is debatable. In any case, the self taught chef has now opened his fifth place, with more on the way. The award winning line-up includes Chai Pani Asheville, Chai Pani Decatur, MG Road, Buxton Hall Barbecue, and Botiwalla.

His restaurants have been written up in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, GQ, Food & Wine, Men’s Health, USA Today, Southern Living, Garden & Gun, Local Palate, and Bon Appétit, among others. His most recent collaboration, Buxton Hall Barbecue, was named by Bon Appétit as one of the 10 Best New Restaurants in America for 2016. Not bad for a former salesman.


Accolades and Publications

  • James Beard Foundation – Best Chef: Southeast semi-finalist (2014-2015)
  • Southern Living –The South’s Best New Restaurants (2016)
  • Bon Appétit – Top Ten Best New Restaurants in the U.S. (2016)
  • Best Chef America (2014)

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