CHAT: Chef Vikas Khanna on his new food show “Twist of Taste”

Looking at his energetic countenance and exuberant demeanour, it is hard to say that Vikas Khanna had just flown in on an intercontinental flight. With a new television series, Twist of Taste to be aired shortly on Fox Traveller, he betrays no nerves, and talks about his diverse pursuits with the quiet ease that comes with complete self-assurance, giving an intriguing account of his life as a chef in the world’s fastest city, New York.

Talking about Twist of Taste gets Vikas animated and he comments, “It is very close to my heart. Food does not stay in the Michelin starred restaurants, but rather in the homes of people. That is the real cuisine.” The show has him going around the coasts of the country and twisting traditional recipes into his own versions. Asked about how he went about changing the recipes which have remained unaltered for so long that they have intertwined with the culture of the place, he replies, “The twisting aspect of the recipes was very scary, but then change is the essence of life. Things evolve and are given a new shape, paving the way for the new to supplant the old.”

Talking about his experience shooting for the show, he chuckles while recounting an anecdote. “There I was, a Punjabi guy, climbing a toddy tree trying to get to the fruit. This was the way the shoot for the show was, three months of non-stop travelling, fun and of course, food.”

There is food for taste, but then it must co-exist with food for functionality, and with so much fast food available, it is necessary to keep a close watch on one’s eating to stay fit. Asked about his dietary habits, Vikas says, “I am like a machine. I eat the same thing every day, I try to not add salt in my food whenever possible, I don’t eat any sugar. I also avoid wheat. My lunch generally is a freshwater fish, while dinner normally comprises plain dal. I believe in eating clean, I have one large cup of coffee in the evening as my only indulgence.”

Vikas, a chef, restaurateur, host of the TV show and author of several books, when asked what he likes best, replies: “Cooking is the main thing, I am a chef and restaurateur first. Everything else is an extra.”