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A misfit kid to a celeb chef - Vikas Khanna’s film captures his struggle

Michelin-starred chef Vikas Khanna’s more than 15-year struggle has been showcased in a documentary called Buried Seeds at the Cannes film festival.

more lifestyle Updated: May 25, 2017 18:16 IST
Chef Vikas Khanna set out to pursue his American dream with just clothes on his back.
Chef Vikas Khanna set out to pursue his American dream with just clothes on his back.

He was born with misaligned feet in a small town in India. Unable to play with other children, Vikas Khanna found refuge in his grandmother’s kitchen. From watching the puffing of bread to understanding the unique characteristics of each ingredient, simple rituals of cooking intrigued him. In his teenage years, Khanna found his calling in the majestic kitchens of the Golden Temple in Amritsar.

Many years later, he set out to pursue his big American dream without much, except the clothes on his back. From spending nights at a homeless shelter to becoming one of the world’s most celebrated chefs, Khanna has come a long way. Today, the Michelin-starred chef is not only the culinary ambassador of Junoon, one of the best Indian restaurants in New York City, USA, but also a name many associate with Indian food the world over. Also a prolific writer, he has authored over 20 books, judged several TV shows and travelled extensively to research food.

Vikas Khanna says he is humbled yet proud to represent the culinary world at a platform that is synonymous with creativity and art.

A Journey full of struggles

Now, Khanna’s journey has been captured in a documentary called Buried Seeds, which was screened at the Cannes film festival in France on May 18. Interestingly, this is his third time at the festival. In 2015, his book, Utsav: A Culinary Epic Of Indian Festivals, was launched there, and last year, Kitchens Of Gratitude, a short documentary that showcased the power of food, premiered at Cannes. He says, “I am humbled yet proud to represent the culinary world at a platform that is synonymous with creativity and art.”

Watch the trailer of Buried Seeds

Buried Seeds is the brainchild of Russian-American director Andrei Severny. Khanna says, “I met him at a fundraiser in 2006. He has been following my journey and struggles. One day, he came up to me and said, ‘Chef, can you help me make this film?’”

Apparently, Severny was impressed by the strong family roots and traditions prevalent in India. “Our families sacrifice a lot for us. He wanted to make a powerful film that captures pain, loss, defeat and the practical side. He promised me this film would be different,” the chef says. And Khanna is indeed happy with the way the documentary has taken shape. “Severny has turned his idea into an eclectic and engaging audio-visual.”

Against all odds

Chef Vikas Khanna loves exploring the various aspects of Indian food.

The documentary showcases Khanna’s more than 15-year struggle in the industry. “It tells today’s generation how difficult it is to fulfil your dreams when so many odds are stacked against you. Buried Seeds was created with the aim to not only show the highs, but also the pain and turbulence that I endured while trying to educate myself and make a career out of cooking. It is not like when you land in America the locals roll out a red carpet before you. They behave normally. However, when you start competing with them, everything changes.”

Khanna has been on a success streak in New York, but his unfathomable love for Indian food remains unchanged. “Indian food is the richest cuisine that the world is just beginning to learn about. We are a very rich society, culturally. I love exploring the various aspects of Indian food because there is always so much to learn. I am like a kid every time I learn about a new spice and ingredient,” says the chef. But ask him if he is ready to open a restaurant in India, and he says, “Not as of now.”

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