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Acclaimed chef Vikas Khanna
Acclaimed chef Vikas Khanna

Your food is your expression, live it: Vikas Khanna

Celebrity chef Vikas Khanna hosted a special screening of 'Chef' last week

Celebrity chef Vikas Khanna is a very busy man. In any given week, he has his hands full with multiple book launches across India and the US, the running of the New York-based Vikas Khanna Hospitality Group, the opening of his first restaurant outside of North America, TV shows and documentary films exploring India’s food traditions. But he took out time to host a special screening of Jon Favreau’s Chef in Mumbai last week. Edited excerpts from an email interview:

What did you think of the movie ‘Chef’?

I just love the film. It’s like the truest and honest story of being in the food world. I loved the scene when Jon Favreau sees the long line (unexpectedly, outside his newly launched food truck) in New Orleans. It’s a moment that every chef looks forward to emotionally and focuses on it as a dream. I loved the expression of seeing the customers (for the first time).

Khanna at his restaurant Junoon
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Khanna at his restaurant Junoon

The critics are always very important. Make or break. Every chef in the US waits for The New York Times review. It’s actually the most-awaited tension-giving moment for any chef. I loved it when (restaurant critic) Sam Sifton wrote that (Khanna’s restaurant) Junoon glows. It was truly the most cherished moment.

What role does the social media play in the life of a restaurateur and/or chef?

Its becoming more and more significant. Blogs, Facebook, Twitter, etc. are the pollinating factors of running a restaurant or any business today. These are the tools of building customer service-networking promoting your thoughts, personal and professional messages.

Are there any lessons that young chefs can learn from the movie ‘Chef’?

I think there were a lot of messages in the movie. Life is short. Don’t worry so much about success and failures. Just keep moving like the food truck. Also, your food is your expression, live it.

If you were to launch your own food truck, what would it be like?

I would love to start a food truck near The Louvre museum (in Paris). I would serve regional Indian tapas plates. Small portions with a blast of flavours. France is anyway my fantasy destination.

Since you’ve pretty much accomplished all the food dreams an up-and-coming chef has, what are your next big plans?

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Khanna with a guest

We are opening our first venture outside the US, in Dubai. This will be the Junoon-Dubai. I am very proud of it and I will hopefully make some amazing food there. Also, my first vegetarian book, Hymns From The Soil, is releasing worldwide after India, I am super excited.

How do you manage your time between your restaurants, writing books, recording television shows and your other projects?

I am very lucky to have a great team. Chef Michael Swamy is my right hand for producing such amazing books. TV is truly a challenge, it’s also the greatest medium to reach to people. It also takes a lot of attention and focus. I am most keen right now about my upcoming part of Holy Kitchens (documentary film) series Wheel Of Dharma, in which I will explore the food-faith traditions of Buddhism, and some amazing interviews with the Dalai Lama.

Chef releases in theatres on 20 June.

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