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Chef Vikas Khanna: Of Flavour & Fame

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Michelin star chef, award-winning author, poet and filmmaker, recipient of the Eleanor Roosevelt Shining Star award, a Benjamin Franklin awardee and much more, Vikas Khanna is as extraordinarily multi-faceted as he is spectacularly successful.

Earlier this year, Vikas Khanna, chef, author, poet and almost unanimously known as India’s food ambassador to the world, notched up another plume in his splendidly feathered cap. His directorial debut, The Last Color, premiered at the 30th Palm Springs International Film Festival in USA, was showcased at a special screening at the United Nations headquarters and won the Best Feature Film award at the Dallas International Film Festival. The acclaim is particularly significant in light of the fact that this is a movie that almost never got made. That is because of the fact that the book on which the movie is based, almost never got written.

A moving account of the widows in Varanasi and Vrindavan, The Last Color manuscript was universally rejected by publishers in the United States of America. Not because Khanna cannot write. In fact, his cookbooks are ranked as amongst the most popular in the world. But this was not a subject that was supposed to be commented upon by a globally famous chef. “People don’t expect and accept a novel by a chef,” said Vikas in an interview. “Back in the US, the issue I had with publishing the book was that people didn’t expect something like this from a chef.”

However, Khanna persevered and The Last Color is now a bonafide success story. Battling adversity and turning it to his advantage has become something of a habit for Vikas who couldn’t run till the age of 13 because he was born with misaligned feet. A life of outdoor sport and frolic not really being an option, his grandmother’s kitchen in Amritsar became young Vikas’s refuge and it was here that the early seeds of a glittering global career were sown.

Harnessing his latent potential, the young Vikas began to move towards his dream at a pace that can only be described as admirable. He began formulating recipes very early on and by the timehe turned 17, his first venturehad already taken shape. Lawrence Gardens Banquets became a popular destination for weddings and family functions and gave Vikas hisfirst taste of managing large scale kitchens.

From there on, it was a journey through some of the most celebrated kitchens of India before he arrived at Junoon, an Indian restaurant in the Flatiron district of Manhattan. It must be noted that Junoon has received a Michelin star every year since 2011 and that is a feat which doesn’t come easy to the best in the business. Countless cookbooks,documentaries, films and documentaries and being cited by Deutsche Welle as one of the 10 Global Legendary Chefs who have revolutionised our eating habits, Vikas Khanna is an incredible talent who is just about getting started.

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