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Month: November, 2012

Graffiti Restaurant’s Jehangir Mehta’s culinary treat after the Varli Culinary Awards

Actor Manu Narayan and Chef Jehangir Mehta of Graffiti at the First Annual Varli Awards at The Altman Building in New York on November 15, 2012. Photo by Lia Chang

Actor Manu Narayan and Chef Jehangir Mehta of Graffiti at the First Annual Varli Awards at The Altman Building in New York on November 15, 2012. Photo by Lia Chang

Jehangir Mehta is the nicest guy. After we co-hosted the Varli Culinary Awards, he invited me and my friend, the photographer Lia Chang, to his restaurant Graffiti at 224 E. 10th street in downtown Manhattan. Meeting with him again earlier that night at Varli, I was struck by how easy going and friendly he is. Walking into Graffiti, one quickly realizes that his personality creates a warm, unique home style atmosphere that the patrons all seem to relax into before enjoying his cuisine. The night we went, we reached the still packed Graffiti at 10:30. The feast that was delivered to the table was so delicious. Dish after dish of intricate tastes exploding in your mouth.  MAN the food is GREAT.

Delectable desserts at Jehangir Metha's Graffiti. Photo by Lia Chang

Delectable desserts at Jehangir Metha’s Graffiti. Photo by Lia Chang

We had almost everything on the menu…  starting with the Zucchini Hummus Pizza. YUM, then the chick pea crusted Skate, the Pork buns with Apricot Chutney, green chili shrimp, some special coconut noodles, and the Grafitti Burger, all, this with copious amounts of red wine and stunning service. Finally, by the time dessert arrived, the warm truffle almond strawberries with pepper ice cream and the hazelnut chocolate caviar cupcake with chocolate chip ice cream, I was satiated.

Actor Manu Narayan, Chef Jehangir Mehta and the staff of Graffiti in New York on November 15, 2012. Photo by Lia Chang

Actor Manu Narayan, Chef Jehangir Mehta and the staff of Graffiti in New York on November 15, 2012. Photo by Lia Chang

Thank you Jehangir and the Staff of Graffiti… Please have me again..I will recommend you vigorously.

And then it was on to Avenue B….. YIKES

Graffiti is located at 224 E. 10th St. in New York. Click here to check out the menu.  And don’t forget to vote for Jehangir here, who is currently competing on The Food Network’s “The Next Iron Chef Redemption.”

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The 2012 Varli Culinary Awards

November 15, 2012: Actor Manu Narayan co-hosts the First Annual Varli Culinary Awards at The Altman Building in New York City. Photo by Lia Chang

November 15, 2012: Actor Manu Narayan co-hosts the First Annual Varli Culinary Awards at The Altman Building in New York City. Photo by Lia Chang

What is the first question that any Indian food lover asks when they visit New York City?  “What is the best Indian restaurant in town?” I am constantly asked this by my friends and family and usually have some vague answer depending on the day and where I usually go.

Well, how cool is this? I was recently asked to co-host an awards show that sought to crown winners of not just the Best Indian Restaurant in NYC, but the best in many other categories as well – Best Chef, Best Mixologist, Best Regional Indian Restaurant, Best Upcoming Chef, Best Dessert and Pastry Chef etc..

Well, on November 15, 2012, I had the honor of co-hosting the first annual 2012 Varli Culinary Awards at The Altman Building in New York, with some of the greatest Indian culinary stars.

The night had everything. Amazing food from some of my favorite restaurants including my personal favorite Tulsi with Master Chef Hemanth Mathur himself supervising the incredible dishes that were being served.

November 15, 2012: Actor Manu Narayan, co-host of the First Annual Varli Culinary Awards with Master Chef Hemanth Mathur of Tulsi Restaurant, at The Altman Building in New York City. Photo by Lia Chang

November 15, 2012: Actor Manu Narayan, co-host of the First Annual Varli Culinary Awards with Master Chef Hemanth Mathur of Tulsi Restaurant, at The Altman Building in New York City. Photo by Lia Chang

Of course, there was incredible conversation to be had in the VIP room with culinary lovers from all industries.

The night started with a killer Red Carpet where star chefs, actors, producers, and industrialists all came together. The real culinary stars though were my new friends and fellow co-hosts India’s culinary master Sanjeev Kapoor, the cool New York celebrity chef /restaurateur of Mehtaphor and Graffiti and currently competing on The Food Network’s The Next Iron Chef Redemption, Jehangir Mehta, and the UAE power food critic and television personality Gaurav Tandon.

November 15, 2012: Actor Manu Narayan, Master Chef Sanjeev Kapoor, and UAE super critic Gaurav Tandon shared co-hosting duties at the First Annual Varli Culinary Awards at The Altman Building in New York City. Photo by Lia Chang

November 15, 2012: Actor Manu Narayan, Master Chef Sanjeev Kapoor, and UAE super critic Gaurav Tandon shared co-hosting duties at the First Annual Varli Culinary Awards at The Altman Building in New York City. Photo by Lia Chang

Actress Tamara Tunie, star of Law and Order SVU and currently co-star of the film Flight, presented an award….

November 15, 2012: Actors Tamara Tunie and Manu Narayan at the First Annual Varli Culinary Awards at The Altman Building in New York City. Photo by Lia Chang

November 15, 2012: Actors Tamara Tunie and Manu Narayan at the First Annual Varli Culinary Awards at The Altman Building in New York City. Photo by Lia Chang

… as did Bollywood actor Chandrachur Singh.

November 15, 2012: Bollywood actor Chandrachur Singh and actor Manu Narayan, co-host of the First Annual Varli Culinary Awards, at The Altman Building in New York City. Photo by Lia Chang

November 15, 2012: Bollywood actor Chandrachur Singh and actor Manu Narayan, co-host of the First Annual Varli Culinary Awards, at The Altman Building in New York City. Photo by Lia Chang

Gabriella Gershenson, Senior Editor of Saveur Magazine, Atul Kumria of Kingfisher Airlines, Umaesh Mody founder of Maya Foods, Rajesh Bhardwaj of Michelin starred Junoon Restaurant and many more were on hand to present the awards and to celebrate the great Chefs, the restaurateurs and the high quality Indian restaurants that are quickly making Indian cuisine mainstream fare around the world.

The evening was taped for broadcast on the Sony TV Asia Network and started off with my opening monologue to the 650 seated guests.  Next came a speech by the creator of the evening Varli Singh, who is the founder of Varli Magazine, the Varli Cook Off, and the Varli Food Festival…..all of which are not to be missed.

November 15, 2012: Gabriella Gershenson, Senior Editor of Saveur Magazine, Varli Singh, Jehangir Mehta and actor Manu Narayan, co-host of the First Annual Varli Culinary Awards, at The Altman Building in New York City. Photo by Lia Chang

November 15, 2012: Gabriella Gershenson, Senior Editor of Saveur Magazine, Varli Singh, Jehangir Mehta and actor Manu Narayan, co-host of the First Annual Varli Culinary Awards, at The Altman Building in New York City. Photo by Lia Chang

I carried through the first bit then handed off to my buddy Jehangir, who tossed the baton to Gaurav and then finished with Sanjeev.

At the end of the show, everyone could enjoy the meals provided by 2012 Best Restaurant Audience Award winner Bukhara Grill,  Michelin starred Tulsi, and a few other choice Chefs. Cocktails were provided by Best Mixologist Award Winner Raju Somerpet.

November 15, 2012: Actor Manu Narayan, co-host of the First Annual Varli Culinary Awards with Bukhara Grill owner Viky Vij, at The Altman Building in New York City. Photo by Lia Chang

November 15, 2012: Actor Manu Narayan, co-host of the First Annual Varli Culinary Awards with Bukhara Grill owner Viky Vij, at The Altman Building in New York City. Photo by Lia Chang

November 15, 2012: Master Chef Hemanth Mathur and his staff pose with actor Manu Narayan, co-host of the First Annual Varli Culinary Awards, at The Altman Building in New York City. Photo by Lia Chang

Master Chef Hemanth Mathur and his staff pose with actor Manu Narayan, co-host of the First Annual Varli Culinary Awards, at The Altman Building in New York City. Photo by Lia Chang Photo by Lia Chang

I wish that I could give you reviews on all the food, but between the hosting and the interviews and pictures, I unfortunately was unable to really try anything.

November 15, 2012: Actor Manu Narayan, co-host of the First Annual Varli Culinary Awards during an interview with Sony TV-Asia at The Altman Building in New York City. Photo by Lia Chang

November 15, 2012: Actor Manu Narayan, co-host of the First Annual Varli Culinary Awards during an interview with Sony TV-Asia at The Altman Building in New York City. Photo by Lia Chang

November 15, 2012: NRI Indie Film Trailblazer Trilok Malik, actor Manu Narayan, co-host of the First Annual Varli Culinary Awards and Lassi with Lavina’s other half Jacki Melwani, at The Altman Building in New York City. Photo by Lia Chang

November 15, 2012: NRI Indie Film Trailblazer Trilok Malik, actor Manu Narayan, co-host of the First Annual Varli Culinary Awards and Lassi with Lavina’s other half Jackie Melwani, at The Altman Building in New York City. Photo by Lia Chang

November 15, 2012: Actor Manu Narayan co-hosts the First Annual Varli Culinary Awards at The Altman Building in New York City. Photo by Lia Chang

November 15, 2012: Actor Manu Narayan co-hosts the First Annual Varli Culinary Awards at The Altman Building in New York City. Photo by Lia Chang

November 15, 2012: Actor Manu Narayan, co-host of the First Annual Varli Culinary Awards with 2012 Influential Woman on the Restaurant Scene award winner and owner of Vermilion Restaurant-Rohini Dey, at The Altman Building in New York City. Photo by Lia Chang

November 15, 2012: Actor Manu Narayan, co-host of the First Annual Varli Culinary Awards with 2012 Influential Woman on the Restaurant Scene award winner and owner of Vermilion Restaurant-Rohini Dey, at The Altman Building in New York City. Photo by Lia Chang

But…..

That is where my new friend fellow co-host and 2012 Best Dessert and Pastry Chef Award winner Jehangir Mehta came in.

November 15, 2012: Actor Manu Narayan, co-host of the First Annual Varli Culinary Awards with fellow co-host and 2012 Best Dessert and Pastry Chef Award winner Jehangir Mehta, at The Altman Building in New York City. Photo by Lia Chang

November 15, 2012: Actor Manu Narayan, co-host of the First Annual Varli Culinary Awards with fellow co-host and 2012 Best Dessert and Pastry Chef Award winner Jehangir Mehta, at The Altman Building in New York City. Photo by Lia Chang

I was so lucky that he and his assistant, Atsuko, just happened to be going back to his restaurant Graffiti and invited me and my friend Lia Chang to join him for dinner there. WHAT A TREAT!

A big thank you to my friend, the supremely talented Lia Chang for agreeing to come as my guest but still being the photographer of all of these wonderful photos.

November 15, 2012: Actor Manu Narayan, co-host of the First Annual Varli Culinary Awards with actor/photographer Lia Chang, on the red carpet at The Altman Building in New York City. Photo by Michael Toolan

November 15, 2012: Actor Manu Narayan, co-host of the First Annual Varli Culinary Awards with actor/photographer Lia Chang, on the red carpet at The Altman Building in New York City. Photo by Michael Toolan

2012-11-15 Manu Narayan_photo by Lia Chang (148)r
Restaurants
Tulsi Restaurant
Graffiti Restaurant
Mehtaphor Restaurant
Junoon Restaurant
Bukhara Grill
Vermilion Restaurant

Other Articles on the Varli Awards:
Varli Culinary Awards
Varli Magazine
Varli Food Festival
Lassi with Lavina: Varli Culinary Awards: A Pat on the back for Indian Food
bibimagazine.com:Inaugural Varli Culinary Awards Winners!
News India Times: Chef Sanjeev Kapoor Hosts Varli Culinary Awards
The Indian Panorama: Master Chef Sanjeev Kapoor Hosts First Varli Culinary Awards in NY
TheNational.com: On the spice trail: Indian food celebrated in New York
Master Chef Sanjeev Kapoor Hosts 1st Annual Varli Culinary Awards with Co-hosts Manu Narayan, Jehangir Mehta & Gaurav Tandon in New York on November 15, 2012
Multimedia: Manu Narayan Dazzles as Richard Roma in La Jolla Playhouse’s Revival of David Mamet’s Glengarry Glen Ross
Voices of NY: A Celebration of Upscale Indian Food