Vikas Khanna on his culinary travels
There is not much Vikas Khanna hasn’t done, and done well. Already, he is an award winning Michelin Starred chef, a restaurateur, author of several cookbooks, a filmmaker, a humanitarian and the host of MasterChef India. What started with an early discovery of his love for food has taken Khanna on a journey that has earned him several accolades along the way. With his new cookbook, “Bliss of Spices” (Wisdom Tree), he highlights the rich flavours of his country. Here, he says, “I have focused on the same comforting flavours and used them to create new traditions of cooking.” Excerpts from an interview:
Your culinary journey has been about travel, people and experiences… I think that there is no greater learning experience than what you learn during travels. I consider myself very fortunate to be born in India and given the opportunity to tell the story to the world. Because of this I want my body of work to be about people, about places and it has become a part of my life’s mission. My grandfather used to say this: “Go somewhere, learn something, be someone, inspire just one. (roughly translated from Hindi-Urdu).” So Bauji, I am on the move.
Marrying the idea of contemporary cuisine to the cultural experience of a place can be tricky. It’s a very fine line between modern-contemporary-traditional. Sometimes you wonder, “Am I going too far?” Many times I do take chances with flavours, presentations and compositions. Then after all that I think…The dish has to have a soul, a connection and that is most important.
From Amritsar to New York, it’s been a long journey. Could you talk a little about expanding the scope of food, and involving yourself in humanitarian projects like SAKIV and Cooking for Life? I had never planned my life, no ambitions, no big words. I just wanted to be a simple cook. So, I credit two things — destiny and blessings. So, every time I look at the journey, I think about gratitude. So all my work with my foundation works as catalyst. We raise funds for different causes, create awareness and host events. Most of my focus has been on world hunger and education and health of children.