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Chef Vikas Khanna debuts at Venice Film Festival, in the kitchen and on screen

Buried Seeds, a documentary on Vikas Khanna’s life gets a special preview screening along with a lavish dinner showcasing India’s culinary trail

brunch Updated: Sep 09, 2017 21:55 IST
Veenu Singh
Veenu Singh
Hindustan Times
Vikas Khanna,Buried Seeds,Andrei Severny
Chef Vikas Khanna on the red carpet of the 74th Venice International Film Festival

This time last year, Vikas Khanna, acclaimed as one of the top 10 chefs in the world (by Gazette Review) was in Rome, cooking a special dinner for the Pope. This year on September 6, Khanna was back in Italy, hosting a lavish evening reception for the special preview screening of Buried Seeds at the Venice Film Festival at the villa Giornate Degli Autori.

Directed by Andrei Severny, Buried Seeds is a documentary based on Khanna’s life, capturing Khanna’s journey as a rising chef across India and later in the US. Set for a 2018 release, the trailer of the film had been released at the Cannes Film Festival in May, and received a positive response.

A poster of Buried Seeds

Though Buried Seeds celebrates the journey of an ordinary man, the reception dinner was themed ‘Celebrating India’, highlighting 70 years of Indian Independence via a culinary trail through the country, including specialties like Lucknowi Tundey Kebab, Bhupali Saffron Sheermal, Kerala duck roast, and Pondicherry Crab cakes. In a sweet twist at the end, modaks were served, complete with coconut, pine nuts, maple syrup, and candied sugar stuffing.

(from left to right) Andrei Severny, Director of Buried Seeds with his wife on the red carpet of the 74th International Venice Film Festival along with Chef Vikas Khanna and camera person of Buried Seeds on the red Carpet of the 74th International Venice Film Festival.

India around the world

Though it appeared that this banquet had been cooked by Indian chefs, none of the eight-chef team aside from Khanna himself was desi. “Due to some visa issues, three of my teammates couldn’t make it to Venice,” says Khanna. “I was very nervous. Four chefs only spoke Italian, one spoke only Danish, one only Russian, and one Spanish. I managed to communicate a bit with the Spanish chef as I know the language to some extent, but with the others, it was a bit difficult. The first hour was spent in confusion and miscommunication, but then, food has no language. Everybody understood what I wanted to do with my dishes and how it was to be served, which was fantastic.”

Tandoori masala rubbed salmon with five lentil khichdi, one of the dishes cooked by Vikas Khanna

Both the food and the documentary got rave reviews, which prompted a few questions from the local press about the possibility of Khanna working in Italian films.

“I told them that even though films are a very powerful medium, my food is what talks for me,” says Khanna who is looking forward to the release of two new books - Poeatry, a book on poetry from the heart of his kitchen, and Blossom, a book on blossoms of spices and their evolution. Both are expected to release next month.

Despite the mad whirl of his Venice visit, Khanna is not exhausted. “You are given this light and attention for a limited time and I need to make the most of it,” he says. “Today, when the limelight is on Indian food, I need to tell the story behind how personal this cuisine is – the story of how generations of a family sacrifice to get their child to stand on par with the rest of the world. And I’m trying to tell that story in a creative way.”

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From HT Brunch,September 10, 2017

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First Published: Sep 09, 2017 21:55 IST