Vikas Khanna (born 14 November 1971) is an award-winning Michelin starred Indian chef, restaurateur, and cookbook writer, filmmaker, humanitarian and the judge of MasterChef India Season 2, 3, 4, 5 and Masterchef Junior.
Childhood – the struggle that shaped him
Vikas Khanna was born in Amritsar ( Parents : Davinder and Bindu Khanna ) with a leg deformity (club foot) and was not able to run till the age of 13. He was bullied at school for the same. He had to wear shoes which weighed 8 kg to straighten the misaligned feet. Imagine the pain he had to go through. But he did not give up.
He was always inspired by his grandmother, whom he lovingly called “Biji”. Her kitchen was instrumental in shaping his career. His grandmother always encouraged him and that’s how Vikas became obsessed with food and had the knowledge of his grandmother’s expertise in his kitchen.
At the age of 17, he started his own catering business for local parties. As he quotes, “Imagine opening up in an alley behind the house! Who would have come?”
It is really inspiring that a small town boy who was not even able to walk became the piped piper of Culinary Arts.
This is what is called as the burning desire for achieving your goals that you set for yourself.
Education - The foundation of Life
Vikas Khanna completed his schooling from St. Francis School, Amritsar. He studied Hospitality at a graduate level from WGSHA, Manipal. He enhanced his Culinary Skills by studying at the Culinary Institute of America and New York University.
He also received an Honorary Doctorate at GD Goenka University as a recognition for his outstanding work in culinary art, philanthropy, altruism and humanitarianism and his global reach as a Chef.
Work Experience - Turning Dreams into reality
After completing his education Vikas Khanna worked for the Oberoi Group, Taj Hotels, Welcome Group and Leela Group of hotels.
He then moved to New York, where he is currently based, and worked for Salaam Bombay and The Café. Vikas Khanna started a restaurant in Manhattan , New York called ‘Junoon’ , an upscale Indian restaurant in Manhattan, which became a turning point in Vikas’ career. He was awarded the Michelin Star by the Michelin Guide for 6 consecutive years since 2011.
Vikas Khanna opened his own restaurant in Dubai called Ellora in the year 2020.
Adding more feathers to his cap –
Apart for being in the kitchen for last 25 years, Vikas Khanna ventured in many other fields like Film Production, authoring of books, a social activism etc . He has justified all the work he has undertaken. Some of them are mentioned below -
1) Vikas Khanna launched the foundation "South Asian Kid's Infinite Vision" (SAKIV) to focus on worldwide issues that demand urgent action such as Tsunami Relief, Hurricanes of the Gulf Coast, Haiti.
2) In 2018, Vikas Khanna built the first Culinary Museum of India in Manipal.
3) Vision of Palate is his award-winning workshop developed to educate people with visual disabilities about the sense of taste, flavor and aromas.
4) The most recent was his drive in April 2020, during the COVID-19 global pandemic. He started a "Feed India" initiative which was backed by Pepsi, India Gate, Quaker Oats, Hyatt Regency and Global Funds for Widows and delivers food and supplies to those in need in India.
He has successfully hosted and judged TV shows like MasterChef India, Twist of Taste on Fox Life, Kitchen’s Nightmares, Hell’s Kitchen to name a few.He also produced documentary series named Holy Kitchens. His documentary “Kitchen of Gratitude’ was featured in the 69th Cannes Film Festival. Also his directorial debut “The Last Color” featuring Neena Gupta was released at 71st Cannes Film Festival and was nominated in the best film category in the final list of the Oscar Academy Awards.
With perseverance and dedication Vikas is unarguably India’s food ambassador to the world. He started when being a chef was not considered as a dignified job. He changed the entire perspective of people to look at the Culinary World.
But even with all the success he is still grounded to his roots. He is the most polite and humble person. Vikas has worked very hard to pursue his dream and has inspired millions across the globe who dreams of making it big in the Hospitality Industry.
Vikas is truly an inspiration for all of us!!!
As he rightly says
“The Power of Food is really spiritual. It not only brings the whole family together on the same table, but also brings the whole world together.”