Cheetie is an Indian-born, Bronx-raised, Southerner, musician, and chef. She has been cooking multi- cultural menus at her beloved Raleigh, NC restaurant, Garland, where she blends flavors of South Asia and the surrounding regions, with the bounty of the local North Carolina agriculture. Cheetie’s cooking is refined and thoughtful, filled with equal parts imagination and rebellion. It is unassumingly delicious and filled with soul. She is a six-time James Beard Awards Semifinalist and was a Nominated Finalist for “Best Chef: Southeast” in 2020 and 2022.
As a child in India, Cheetie could often be found in the kitchen with her mother and grandmother watching and learning as they prepared daily meals. Her family held strongly to their culinary heritage, thoughtfully passing on generations’ old technique and authentic preparation. When Cheetie was eight years old, the Kumar family relocated to Bronx, NY. About that time, Cheetie shares: “I was immersed in a world of various ethnicities and new cultures. As a child struggling to forge an identity in a new country, food and cooking were the languages that bridged my family and new friends.”
After high school, Cheetie attended the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, where she majored in Psychology with minors in History and Comparative Literature. While there, she also earned a solid education in music production, show, band management, and promotion while working at the university’s radio station and as part of the school concert board. It was those experiences that led to her move to Raleigh, NC to pursue a career in music. In Raleigh she found a community filled with creative musicians and artists, and she also discovered a culture rich in agriculture, racially diverse food sources, and a culinary history that is as complicated as it is delicious.
Cheetie is a self-taught cook who studied recipes while pursuing her career as a guitarist in bands The Cherry Valence and more recently Birds of Avalon, alongside her husband and business partner, Paul Siler. The years they’ve spent on tour, and as the owners of the music venue Kings and adjoining cocktail bar, Neptune’s Parlour, taught Cheetie the value of the independent, artistic spirit that is the backbone of the downtown Raleigh community where she and Paul find inspiration and are happy to call home.
Cheetie has been profiled in the New York Times in October, 2018 and Southern Living in September, 2019, The Wall Street Journal in 2020, among many other national publications. She currently serves on the board of the Independent Restaurant Coalition.