In 2009, Meherwan Irani quit his day job in sales to open his first restaurant – Chai Pani, an Indian street food restaurant in Asheville, NC. Whether it was a midlife crisis or a stroke of genius is debatable, but since then, the self-taught chef has been nominated for five James Beard Awards and built a growing restaurant and spice empire between two of the South’s most essential culinary cities.
His latest venture, Spicewalla, is highly imbued with that Indian OG spiceswag. Every fall, while growing up, his family would spend a whole week making their own dhansak masala from fresh, hand-picked, whole spices from their own farmland. They’d roast and grind it themselves — a tradition he brought with him when he opened Chai Pani — and that carries on at Spicewalla. Echoing the way that the third wave coffee movement increased consumer demand for better, fresher beans, Meherwan is on a mission to shi consumer standards toward excellence and flavor on their spice rack and change the culture around spices in America.
Today, Spicewalla carries over 125 different herbs, spices and exclusive blends for cooks everywhere, from professional to home kitchens.