Meherwan Irani

Years of Participation

MEHERWAN IRANI is a chef and restaurateur changing the perception of Indian food in America through his growing restaurant and spice empire in two of the South’s most essential culinary cities. He is a leading voice in the industry’s conversation around diversity and cultural exchange. In August 2018, Meherwan was named by TIME Magazine as one of the “31 People Changing The South” and is a four-time James Beard Award semifinalist for Best Chef: Southeast. In 2019, Meherwan won both the 2019 Georgia Restaurant Association Crystal of Excellence (GRACE) Diversity Leadership Award and the North Carolina Restaurant & Lodging Association’s Faces of Diversity Award.

Meherwan leads a team of more than 200 as CEO, Executive Chef and Founder of Chai Pani Restaurant Group (CPRG) that includes Chai Pani Asheville, Chai Pani Decatur, Botiwalla Ponce City Market, Botiwalla Alpharetta, Buxton Hall Barbecue, and Spicewalla. His seventh business, Botiwalla Optimist Hall (Charlotte), is slated to open early 2020.

Meherwan grew up in Ahmednagar, in the midwestern state of Maharashtra in India, and he came to the U.S. at age 20. In 2009, he and his wife and business partner, Molly, introduced Asheville, North Carolina, to the colors, flavors and faces of India with Chai Pani.