In an interview with the BBC, Michelin star chef Vikas Khanna sharply corrected the anchor who conjectured that the chef’s generosity of feeding homeless and destitute in India amidst coronavirus lockdown was triggered by his own sense of hunger while he grew up in India.
“You have been famous now. You have cooked for Obamas, you have been on Gordon Ramsay’s show. But, you were not always like this. You are not from a rich family so I dare say you understand how precarious it can be in India,” the BBC anchor said imperiously.
However, Khanna, with his cool demeanour, tersely dispelled the unfounded notions held by the BBC anchor. “My sense of hunger did not come from India so much because I was raised in Amritsar and we have a huge community kitchen where everyone gets fed. The entire city can be fed from the community kitchen,” Khanna said while referring to the pervasive langars in the city that provide food to people.
He further added that his sense of hunger came from the sprawling American city of New York during his struggling days. “My sense of hunger came from New York, when I was struggling and really at the bottom. It was difficult for a brown kid to rise through, someone who had a dream of winning the Michelin star,” he said.
“Therefore my sense of hunger came from New York when I was living in Grand Central and sleeping around. It came from the United States, not from India,” Khanna emphatically added.
Vikas Khanna helps migrant labourers and poor with cooked meals
The stark images of migrant labourers trudging on their foot empty stomach to their native places across the breadth of India moved the celebrity chef into launching an initiative for those who had been adversely affected by the coronavirus induced lockdown in the country.
Khanna wanted to express his solidarity with those who were going hungry during the lockdown in the wake of coronavirus pandemic. So he put out an appeal on social media for those who were in the need of food during the pandemic and within no time, he received a flurry of responses on social media requesting food for the needy.
As of June 3, Khanna had supported the distribution of sanitary napkins in Diamond Harbour, West Bengal and bankrolled 57 food stations within petrol pumps in Uttar Pradesh and Bihar to offer cooked meals to migrant workers hoofing it towards their respective villages. Till June 3, he had approximately distributed 9 million meals in more than 125 cities with the assistance of the National Disaster Relief Force and several other collaborators.