Chef Connections

Suvir Saran


Chef Suvir Saran’s cookbooks, American Masala, Indian Home Cooking and the James Beard Award–nominated Masala Farm, are the perfect illustration of the blending of Chef Saran’s childhood roots in New Delhi with his culinary experiences in the United States.

Formerly the executive chef at Devi in New York City—the only U.S. Indian restaurant to earn a Michelin star rating—Saran shares the best flavors of Indian and American home cooking, traveling extensively to reach audiences, ranging from home cooks and fellow chefs to physicians and nutritionists. He is chairman of Asian Culinary Studies for the Culinary Institute of America (CIA) and has added to his academic and culinary accomplishments as a farmer in upstate New York, where he raises animals and provides eggs and milk for local restaurants.

Peanuts play an integral role in Indian cuisine, and Chef Saran embraces peanuts’ cross-cultural appeal. His Masala Slaw dish is a nutritious take on traditional coleslaw that uses a refreshing citrus and vinegar base; peanuts for crunch, good fats and protein; and Indian spices such as chaat masala for warmth. His Peanut, Faro, Mushroom Burgers bring to mind India’s largely vegetarian population and show that a plant-based dish can deliver both amazing flavor and excellent nutrition.

Mai Pham


James Beard Award–winning authority on Southeast Asian cuisine, Chef Mai Pham succeeds with her take on the traditional simplicity of Vietnamese and Thai cuisines. Raised in Saigon, Chef Pham has authored two cookbooks, Pleasures of the Vietnamese Table and The Best of Southeast Asian Cuisine, and is chef/owner of Lemongrass Asian Grill and Noodle Bar and Star Ginger in Sacramento, Calif. Relying heavily on produce, herbs and spices, Chef Pham’s traditional preparations appeal to consumers’ growing interest in this cuisine.

A staple in Southeast Asian cuisine, peanuts make the exotic more familiar to Americans in dishes such as Spicy Lemongrass Tofu with Basil and Peanuts, a popular dish served in temples throughout Vietnam. Ubiquitous and varied in cuisines across the world, peanut sauce with hoisin, coconut milk and chilis is the perfect complement to Chef Pham’s Shrimp and Pork Salad Rolls.

Linton Hopkins


Chef Linton Hopkins makes local sourcing of foods a priority and takes Southern food upscale with his Atlanta restaurant, Restaurant Eugene, and his relaxed Holeman & Finch Public House. Named Best Chef in the Southeast by the James Beard Foundation, Chef Hopkins strives to have nearly every ingredient made in-house, use foods from the local community and know the farmers who produced it, and preserve the heritage of Southern cooking.

The chef gives chowder a uniquely Southern treatment with Georgia shrimp and USA-grown peanuts in his Peanut Shrimp Chowder.

Hugh Acheson

An Ottawa native, Chef Hugh Acheson is at home in his restaurants in Athens, Ga., The National and The Five and Ten, and in Atlanta, Empire State South. The chef won a James Beard Award for his cookbook, A New Turn in the South, which encapsulates his appreciation for the history and evolution of Southern cuisine. Chef Acheson chooses to work with peanuts not only because of their roots in the South but also because of their textural attributes and their ability to pair well with both savory and sweet dishes.

With Spicy Peanut Soup, Chef Acheson adds a kick to this classic Southern course with chipotle pepper in adobo and uses peanut butter and sweet potatoes. With a nod to Latin influence in the modern South, the soup is topped with an avocado salsa.

Roberto Santibanez


Chef Roberto Santibanez is championed for creating the gold standard in upscale Mexican cuisine. Raised in Mexico City and educated at Le Cordon Bleu, the James Beard Award–nominated chef explores the bold and complex flavors of Mexican cuisine and applies techniques and native ingredients to both traditional dishes and modern interpretations.

Chef Santibanez’s Chicken in Red Peanut Sauce (Encacahuatado Rojo con Pollo) highlights traditional use of blended peanuts as the base for a flavorful sauce spiced with árbol and guajillo chiles. Loosely described as a Mexican sandwich, the torta is served throughout Mexico, and Santibanez’s Peanut Chicken Torta includes all the traditional accompaniments.

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