Michelin starred Indian chef Vikas Khanna, also one of the judges of MasterChef India Season 5, is affable and inspiring in equal measure. He talks about his mentor chef Sanjeev Kapoor, his food awakening moment, writing poems and much more…
Your association with Masterchef India is long. How do you think the show has changed India’s perspective towards food and chefs?
I think today’s food scene of India is dramatically changed. Thanks to shows like MasterChef, the viewer is eating out a lot, travelling a lot, experimenting a lot, has more knowledge than what he knew 10 years ago. I think the impact of the show is very significant.
Tell us something about the new season of MasterChef India.
I think we have grown together with our viewers. The markets, the information, the cookbooks, the chef’s influence and the mind of home cooks have evolved with time. There is so much more global influences and yet much deeper cuisines and regional research on the show. Sometimes we will bring something new in the challenge and sometimes a very ancient cooking technique or dish becomes our inspiration. We also have contestants from Dubai, New Jersey, San Francisco, London and lot of Indian cities. I am sure this season will change the way cooking is perceived in our society.
How is your chemistry with Chef Kunal Kapur and Zorawar Kalra on set and otherwise? Are you in touch with ex judge Sanjeev Kapoor?
Chef Sanjeev Kapoor will always be my mentor and guide. Any time I need information or research or clarity, I pick up my phone and call him. He is my lifeline in so many ways. Kunal is like my younger brother, we have both grown on the show together and appreciate the influence of the platform mutually. He has a heart of gold. I have been inspired by Mr Jiggs Kalra all my life, and Zorawar is not only continuing the legacy but he has also taken it forward in the most sophisticated and honourable way. We all think-breathelive food and on this stage we all decide everything together, mutually and equally.
Tell us something about your kitchen art museum.
The museum is dedicated to my father (who bought me my first tandoor). It will be one-of-a-kind Kitchen Arts Museum. It’s all about teaching history and our transformation through utensils. The building is coming up in full swing.
Your journey in America has been inspiring. What is your biggest takeaway?
Dignity of labour. That was truly one of my first observations. I worked as a dish washer and the American at the bar was a son of a billionaire who wanted to make it big on his own. I think I went to America at the right time. India was rising and so was the interest in India. Many Americans were travelling and due to boom in IT industry, many Indians were visiting America. This all helped to create interest in Indian cuisine in the West. I was just standing at the right place and the right time as the American food scene was becoming more Indian flavoured.
How does writing help you spread your purpose?
I think Americans love literature and their respect for a new kind of work is very high. My book Return to the Rivers was very impactful in spreading the culture of Himalayan Cuisine in the US. Literature is a great part of our legacy.
What was your first food awakening moment?
Going to Maurya Sheraton and seeing the midnight buffet. I cried like a child, well I was a child at that point and it was also my moment of truth. All my earliest memories were in Amritsar.
written by :- Karan Bhardwaj