We all know about the versatility of Indian food. No matter where you go, you will find at least one Indian restaurant serving classic meals like dal makhani, butter chicken, paneer, and more. While we surely can’t get enough of this taste, Indian cuisine has made a name for itself worldwide. Recently, an Indian restaurant in the US has won a top culinary award. A celebrated Indian-origin chef and an Indian restaurant in North Carolina serving “innovative and affordable” street food have won the top honours at America’s most prestigious culinary awards that recognise exceptional talent in the food industry.
The James Beard Award for “Best Chef: New York State” went to Chintan Pandya of the famed New York City restaurant Dhamaka. For the unversed, the James Beard Awards honour great talent in the culinary and food media industries, as well as a demonstrated dedication to racial and gender equity, community, sustainability, and a culture where all may thrive.
CEO of the James Beard Foundation, Clare Reichenbach, said that the awards “recognise outstanding food and beverage professionals” and also “honour our entire industry-and the incredible resilience, fortitude, talent, and leadership so many have shown over the past two years” amid the COVID19 pandemic.
When Pandya won this award, he said that it is “actually unbelievable and never imagined that I’ll stand here at any point of time.” Accompanied by his business partner Roni Mazumdar on stage, Pandya, referring to Mazumdar, said: “The reason he’s over here is that I always came up with ideas which were very idiotic and stupid. And over the 22 years that I’ve been cooking, nobody believed in it.
“I met this guy five years back. And after a few years, I realised that he’s a bigger idiot and stupid than me because he believes in my ideas. And because he believed in my idiocracy and stupidity that I’m standing here, so big thanks to him.”
Dhamaka’s website states that “Dhamaka is Explosive. This is the other side of India, the forgotten side of India.” Describing itself as “Unapologetic Indian,” Dhamaka, chef and partner Pandya and restaurateur Mazumdar, serves “provincial Indian cuisine to the new Essex Market.” This restaurant started last year in February and was featured on the number one spot in the New York Times’ list of New York’s Top 10 New Restaurants of 2021.
While this award was given for the best chef, another James Beard award was given to an Indian restaurant called Chai-Pani for “outstanding restaurant.” The snack corner beat Brennan’s in New Orleans to bag the top title. You can read more about it here.