Chef, restaurateur, cookbook writer, filmmaker and all-around stud, Vikas Khanna is one of the most popular celebrities in the food and beverages world right now. A man with a golden heart, Khanna is the Smile Foundation’s goodwill ambassador and wants to alleviate malnutrition in India.
In an exclusive interview with MW, Khanna tells us about his sources of joy, his regrets and his latest collaboration with Quaker Oats.
Tell us something about your biggest achievement and biggest regrets so far?
Biggest achievement? It was actually the cover of Man’s World. I remember that shoot in Delhi very dearly. I flew in just for the shoot. My biggest achievement, I feel, till now hasn’t come. My biggest regret would always be not being with my dad when he passed away, it’s going to always haunt me.
What is the one skill every man should possess?
I think every man should be able to cook.
Now, this is a tricky one. Which is the one thing all men should know about women?
Main galat insaan hon question poochne ke liye. Mujhe kabhi kabhi lagta hai mera toh koi relation nahi last karta 6 mahine se zyaada, teen mahine kabhi kabhi. I just think it’s also because of my travels. I’m working on such crazy projects so it’s a tough thing to …
Alright. Which is your dominant flaw?
My dominant flaw is that I’m temperamental. I just feel that when I would watch my chefs make a mistake or when servers make a mistake, I am not the person who stays quiet and says “chalta hai chalne do”. I would become extremely crazy and throw tantrums. Because I feel like you don’t understand that I have been on the other side of the river when food was an extreme privilege to have at home and I do feel like when people come to your restaurant, or your workplaces or your events, they spend a lot of money for that and to compromise on that – I just think – that it’s not worth giving that value and respect to your career and to yourself.
What is the one thing that you’ve always desired?
One thing I desire is just a little bit more sleep somehow. I just feel like my sleep cycles are so crazy that I wish I can sleep a little more.
Coming to time zones, which is your favourite place on the earth?
My favourite place on earth will be Bhutan. Something about it just calms my energy and also I was going through a strange metamorphosis in my life where I had just closed a restaurant, I had gone broke with my cooking school, I had a catering company which was under too much trouble. I decided to leave America and I went to the Himalayas and Bhutan – I feel like it was the place for my rebirth.
A social media abbreviation which you don’t know the full form of?
Bohot hai. My nieces keep putting that on the family group and I have no idea, I need to Google it all the time. Lying on the floor and laughing … but that was a very interesting one.
What irritates you the most about people?
What irritates me about the people is sometimes their non-commitment.
And what’s your message to the millennials who are health conscious?
Learn how to cook. If you really want to eat healthily, you can’t depend on people.
Which word or phrase do you overuse the most?
Ullu da phatta. Somehow I don’t know what it means also. I think it means ‘Son of an owl’, but my mother used to call me ullu da phatta so I don’t even know what it actually means. Most of the people who are from Europe or America, they also use ullu da phatta in the office.
So, if you could be a historical figure for a day, who would you be?
Martin Luther King mujhe koi bana de ek din ke liye.
Cats or Dogs?
Instagram cats, real-life dogs.
Which is an overrated virtue according to you?
Talent. Oh my god, in the last 20 years in the US I have seen the most talented people still looking for jobs because talent means nothing without an attitude. Talent se kya hota hai. Thoda hard work karo talent aa jaata hai. If you have dedication, talent means nothing.
What are you doing these days?
We are doing an amazing project in Banaskantha in Gujarat. We are with the Pepsi Co. foundation and with Quaker Oats. We have this amazing project which is going on and which is about nutrients for girls and bohot mere heart ke close hai yeh project. It took us a lot of months to finalize the details of it and I want to use this project as a template and I want to use this project as to how I can apply this to many more places, cities, schools for the health of girls (sic).
A message from you to whoever is reading this story?
I feel that somehow, we get define by our colour, somehow, we get defined by what people tell us. I’m not doing this as an Oprah moment but I feel that some of the projects in which I had to shut off the world and focus on what my heart said – they are the most powerful projects I have done and I have treasured them the most. So, I think we need to find something that really gravitates towards us and we can’t breathe without doing it and I think we should continue and find new ways to do it.