For Chef Vikas Khanna, interviews are now an endemic part of his life. But as he says, it’s the food and its spirit that matters to him and kitchen is the place where he belongs to. In an ice-breaking session with Glam and Glaze, the celebrated chef let drops his childhood memories with food, love for writing books and startling emotion of being a responsible citizen and icon.
Q. Take us to the phase of your life when the love for food made you realize that this is what you wanted to do?
Well (laughs). I started cooking at a very young age. I was inspired by the sound, aroma and rituals of kitchen. When I used to see everyone sit together on the table and the memories created around. I knew it right away, that this is what I want to do for the rest of my life.
Q. Any childhood memories, that you think reflects your love for food as a chef?
My grandmother’s love with food was my greatest support. Whenever I used to visit the Golden Temple and roll breads, I used
CHRONICLE to feel free and equal to everyone.So, I think at that time only it was quite evident that I had some connection with food and finally that connection became my life.
Q. Share your connection with Amritsar. Any signature food from Amritsar that you feel connected to and why.
Oh God. Amritsar is the Mecca for Punjabi cuisine. Its a grandmother’s town and thus everyone is super emotional about the city and its food culture. I used to love to work on Tandoor on the streets. The Amritsari kulcahas are very important to me, sometimes we serve an inspired version in my Junoon, New York too. The best part about Indian food is they make you connect to your land.
Q. Few years back you were hailed as one of the “50 Sexiest Men Alive” by People magazine. For a chef,how far this is important?
(Smiles). When it happened it was altogether a different phase. It was a very new thought of personas at that time. Suddenly there was so
much discussion around it in the United States and India. I was surprised. Because for me, its the food, its spirit and love that matters.
Q. Writing books on food has become run-of-the-mill. Do you think chefs are doing justice to it?
Everyone has the perspective and love to write books. I love them all. There is nothing like doing justice or not. Its the love for food and kitchen that matters.
Q. When it comes to writing a book, what inspires you?
(Ponders) Something new. Something more meaningful. Something that will pass the test of time. Simple, yet deep.
Q. Do you think that food reality shows have contributed majorly to the recognition of chefs in India?
Of course. Food has become prime time. More than the sustainability, its part of lifestyle now. Though it was always an inevitable part of
our life, but we never took the call and recognized it. Thankfully due to media its happening now and its the most important industry today.
Q. One food that you feel reflects the taste and personality of Vikas Khanna and why?
I eat very healthy and simple. Smoothies, Muesli, Fruits, Daals. I taste too much food all day, that is why I keep my diet very simple.
Q. Do you remember the first dish you made as a professional chef. What was it and what was the occasion?
Yes, everyone remembers. Its Béchamel Sauce. The famous white sauce. Then I remember we were asked to make vegetables. It was my
first day at WGSHA, Manipal in the kitchen production class.
Q. If not a chef, what Vikas would have been doing in his professional career?
I would have been a full time farmer and a sculptor.
Q. When we talk about Indian food, what makes us stand apart from other cuisines of the world?
Indian food is the gravity of the World Cuisines. Its Ayurveda side, use of spices, combinations and regional variations makes it to the most diversified and infinite cuisines in the World.
Q. As a youth icon, what you feel is your responsibility towards the young minds. Any suggestion you would like to share?
Of course yes. You always feel responsible when nation’s youth looks up to you. There is one piece of advice that I strongly believe in, that be true to what you love and then excel it. But keep re-inventing yourself. Be formless and yet be the form. Have a skin of an elephant and heart of a poet.