Indian chef and restaurateur, Vikas Khanna recently launched his book ‘Sacred Foods of India’ at NFT in collaboration with Ganesh Raju, CEO Akshaya.io. The Michelin star chef talks to us about his phygital cover, NFTs, his love for Indian food and his advice for the younger generation.
1. Tell us a little about your book “Sacred Foods of India”.
Sacred Foods of India is a coffee table book honoring the people who have carried on the culinary tradition. Food is an integral part of India. It is not just about restaurants, home cooked or street food. We talk about the food of temples, gurudwaras and dargahs. In a post-pandemic world, it’s hard to push coffee table books. We want to push the avenues and reach out to people from all over the world, especially the diaspora for our next generation. Children in America do not have literature that celebrates India. We wanted to reach every individual and bring Indian culture to the world.
2. What are the benefits of converting this book into NFTs?
NFT is the new language and culture of the world. Bringing the book to Metaverse is an opportunity to spread Indian recipes, history and culture across borders. Digital is the new way of consuming content and we want to be at par with what’s happening. We wanted to celebrate Indian culture with a wider audience.
3. How will NFTs revolutionize the food industry?
Our generation is between the digital and the physical. In the past, to learn cooking, one had to go to different towns and meet chefs. I remember a European chef wanted to shoot a recipe on video and I was shocked. But now I see how it has been revolutionized. Most content is consumed online. Selling books has become increasingly difficult as the market shrinks and evolves digitally. Similarly, blockchains and NFTs are set to revolutionize the food world. In the Metaverse, it’s as if you’re cooking with someone in your kitchen. This experience is really amazing.
4. Is the book physical or digital?
The book is phygital – a combination between the digital and the physical. We have physical copy of book with chip of NFT and digital copy of NFT book. We wish you the benefit of having a masterpiece in your living room – a coffee table book, a tribute to Indian culture. This will open the door for home cooks, chefs and food writers who will see this technology revolutionize cooking and revolutionize the food industry.
5. Are there any new books on the horizon?
I have a commitment to write 50 books in my lifetime. Soon I will release a special book ‘Ceremony of Aromas’ published by Bloomsbury. The book is a visual delight, it talks about the evolution of spices, different flavors and how they are used in cooking.
6. You have won many awards. Any thoughts on that?
As a chef, I have a global voice and it is my responsibility to use my voice for the things I believe in and the causes I fight for. For me, praise and criticism are the same and I try to work. But accolades are fleeting and I am humbled by it. So, I don’t usually comment on awards.
7. Tips for new and budding chefs.
Indian food has arrived on a global scale with a huge explosion of Indian chefs on mainstream platforms in America, Europe, Australia and the Middle East. I advise them to be very true to their craft and culture. Failures are an opportunity. The new generation of chefs think in a broader perspective than we do. So, remember that closed doors are, in fact, turning you towards greater gateways.