In 2009, Meherwan Irani quit his day job in sales to open his first restaurant – Chai Pani, a unique Indian street food joint in downtown Asheville. Whether it was a midlife crisis or a stroke of genius is debatable. Since then, the self-taught chef has opened four restaurants, one bar, and now, Spicewalla. With five James Beard Award nominations for Best Chef in the Southeast under his belt, he’s finally confident this might just be working out. His restaurants have been written up in the New York Times and many other countless food reviews. Growing up in India, Meherwan noticed that spices, like produce, are part of the natural rhythm of the seasons. Seeds are planted, and grow until procured at different times of the year. Then they're used in making blends and masalas. The entire family is involved in this process. Each family’s blend is distinctive and a source of pride. Every fall, a whole week was dedicated to making their own dhansak masala in Meherwan’s grandmother's home.