Alamelu Vairavan, attended the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, while raising a family, and graduated with a B.S. degree in Health Information Management. After graduation, she worked for several years in long-term care facilities. During her tenure in the long-term industry, Alamelu received her Wisconsin Nursing Home Administrator’s license and served as a consultant for various healthcare facilities in Wisconsin.
Over the years Alamelu developed a passion for cooking and sharing foods with family and friends. She also developed a passion for educating the public about the use of spices and legumes in preparing tasty and healthful foods.
Alamelu has published several books on South Indian cooking that have been well-received throughout the world. They are:
- Chettinad Kitchen: Food and Flavors from South India (2011; Westland-Tata, New Delhi, India)
- Healthy South Indian Cooking – Expanded Edition (2008, 2010, 2012 Hippocrene Books, N.Y.)
- Healthy South Indian Cooking (2001, 2003, 2007; Hippocrene Books, NY)
- Art of South Indian Cooking (1997; Hippocrene Books, NY
(The last three books were co-authored with Dr. Patricia Marquardt)
Alamelu has also made contributions to two other books:
- Healing Spices: How to Use 50 Everyday and Exotic Spices to Boost Health and Beat Diseases (2011; Sterling Publishing Company, N.Y.)
- Cooking Healthy Across America (2004; John Wiley, N.Y.)
Alamelu and her books have been featured in magazines and newspapers including USA Today, the Baltimore Sun, Philadelphia Enquirer, Los Angeles Times, Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, New York Post, Wisconsin Woman, India Today and the major Indian newspaper, the Hindu. The Los Angeles Times has referred to her recipes as “coconut-infused curries, brilliant vegetable dishes,” and has noted “what could be complex becomes relatively simple in Vairavan’s approach.”
Beginning in 2010, Alamelu hosted her own TV cooking series titled, “Healthful Indian Flavors with Alamelu” on Public Television. Produced by Milwaukee Public Television, in Wisconsin, the program has since been aired in other parts of the country including San Francisco, Los Angeles, Denver, Houston, Philadelphia, Miami, Boston, Louisville, and Honolulu.
Alamelu has also made invited presentations in many major culinary events. She has been a regularly featured chef-author at the Annual Kohler Food and Wine Experience and the Annual Dine and Wine Wisconsin events. In 2009, Alamelu presented a sold-out workshop, titled, “Enticing Indian Flavors with Alamelu” at the prestigious James Beard Foundation, a culinary institution in Manhattan, New York. Alamelu received an “outstanding contribution” award from the James Beard Foundation for her program.
As a culinary instructor, Alamelu offers classes in which she teaches the public easy ways to cook and enjoy aromatic foods -vegetables, lean meat and rice dishes-using legumes, spices and herbs. Her classes have been offered through community education, hospital and university outreach programs. Alamelu has also offered “wellness and team-building programs” for employees of corporations including GE-Healthcare, Johnson Controls, Manpower International and Northwestern Mutual Life Insurance.
Alamelu’s passion for healthful cooking and eating has led to her appearances in numerous national and regional TV shows including appearances on PBS, Discovery Channel, Fox, NBC and CBS programs. (Her most memorable guest appearance was on her first TV show in 1997 –Discovery Channel’s Home Matters that also featured America’s revered chef, the great Julia Child.) Alamelu has also been interviewed on many radio shows throughout the country.
In 2009, Alamelu also received an Outstanding Service Award” from the Students of India Association at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee for “her dedication to the welfare of the students; for popularizing Indian cooking in the U.S. and educating the public on its enormous health benefits, and for being an outstanding community leader”.
Alamelu is gratified by the overwhelmingly positive user reviews of her books, and the uplifting responses she has received from the viewers of her TV programs from around the country. Alamelu regularly participates in and contributes to charitable events and programs. She gets great satisfaction knowing that she is helping people discover the joy of cooking, eating and sharing flavorful and healthful foods.
Alamelu resides with her husband Dr. K. Vairavan in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. A proud mother of two children, she greatly enjoys interactions with people including children and seniors for whom she has a special affinity.