Swati Goyal in conversation with Vikas khanna
Swati Goyal May 06, 2019 400 Views 0 Comments
As part of the “Chef2Chef” culinary affair hosted by Dallas Indian Arts Collective (DIAC), we got an opportunity to speak to the Michelin star chef, author and filmmaker – Vikas Khanna.
From delivering video tapes to knitting sweaters, Vikas has done it all. Today he is very successful and we want to share with you his story.
Swati: From the golden city of “Amritsar” to the city that never sleeps “New York”, you have come a long way! What have been the highlights of your journey so far?
Vikas: My journey has not been smooth, it has been full of ups and downs and I think this is very normal. I read somewhere, if you have ups and downs it implies life is moving but a straight line implies that your heart stopped beating. So I think, setbacks, failures - they all are a cost of living that we pay for being alive and innovative. I had a pretty comfortable life in Amritsar, I had more than hundred employees working for me; life was good. But I wanted something better so I stepped out of my comfort zone. Honestly, I created the ups and downs in my life and that's what keeps me excited. No one told me what to do, I just followed my heart. I never felt bound by a social norm or let my mind confine my creativity. If I felt like venturing into filmmaking, I did it. Tomorrow, if I feel like doing something even crazier, I'll do it. Worst case is I fail only to start over and leap higher. If you are chef with Michelin star, most people will be content with being just that or you could defy the boundaries and go win an Oscar! So yes, failures are important and even more important is to keep challenging yourself each time you fail.
Swati: You come from a very simple, modest family and growing up you struggled with language – particularly English. Fast track to today, you are a celebrated author of thirtyfour books! How did that transformation happen?
Vikas: I am a very lazy person by default (Vikas chuckles). I think people pushed me too hard. Often we think, the one who's silent is the weakest. The silent one is bullied the most but in reality he is observing, taking it all in. People challenged me which in turn motivated me to challenge myself, I pushed myself to be the best version of a chef. I want to be the best version of myself as well but that is work in progress (Vikas cajoles). Important message is, you have to constantly move forward. To anyone who's reading this, if you are experiencing a low in your life or have suffered a major setback, just remember that at times people and circumstances around you will pin you down but you have to keep fighting and keep striving to be a better version of yourself. If it inspires you, I had a series of a failures back in 2008. I had a cooking school in NY – it closed, a catering company – it closed, a restaurant in Times Square – it closed. And all this happened in matter of few months! That's when I channeled my energy into my book “The Holi Kitchen”. This reinvented me and gave me a new, creative canvas. So remember when one door closes on you, another door opens for you.
I still experience failures. My new projects are risky and unconventional. For instance, my new film “The Last Color” challenges the social norms and is definitely not for the weak hearted. My new cook book is very different from the conventional food cook books and I am working on another project to raise funds for “Smile Foundation”. Frankly, I am glad I have the energy and drive to try new things and keep exploring. I was just talking to Jitin (co- founder of DIAC) that how I was feeling butterflies in stomach ahead of my movie premier and he said something very apt “It's good that you feel these butterflies, it means you still care. The day you stop caring, you won't feel any excitement anymore.”
Swati: Your directional debut movie “The Last Color” is being premiered. How did you manage to rope in one of the most established, veteran actresses like “Neena Gupta” for your debut project? Did you cook for her?
Vikas: No I did not cook for her (laughing out loud). Actually it was Mr Anupam Kher who arranged for us to meet. I narrated her last scene of the movie and that convinced her to be part of the project. Her exact words were, “I know you are not experienced but your honesty and passion are more powerful. I know this is going to be an honest movie”. I am very thankful to Mr Anupam Kher so much that I thank him in the opening of the movie.