Vikas Khanna: I'm married to my NY restaurant
The popular cooking reality show MasterChef returns this month with a new season. Only this time, those donning the chef’s hat will come in small packages.
Junior MasterChef Swaad ke Ustaad makes its Indian debut on August 17, 2013 on Star Plus.
The show will be judged by Chefs Vikas Khanna, Kunal Kapur and Surjan Singh Jolly.
Vikas Khanna, the celebrity chef who owns a Michelin-starred restaurant in New York, talks to Rajul Hegde about the show and the 8-12-year-old participants.
Is it easier or more difficult to judge children?
I think it is easier to deal with kids because they are open-minded. For instance, when you tell them, ‘You could have given this a better shape,’ they will say, ‘Hum logo nay soche hi nahi; kya idea diya hai’ (we didn’t think of that, what a great idea).
It is not the same with the older contestants because somewhere the ego comes in. We were surprised that kids could accept change faster than the adults.
What are the things that you keep in mind when judging?
When something is not right, tell them so.
Like a parent or teacher, we need to make them understand what is right and wrong. We are the guardians. It is a competition and one person has to go far and we respect that.
Image: Vika Khanna
'I find the elimination process difficult'
How do you deal with the elimination process?
I don’t understand how to eliminate kids because I find it difficult to eliminate even the older contestants. We are human, it feels horrible to eliminate, but that is the format and the purpose of the show, ultimately skill will win.
One thing is for sure, that kids have got the power to move forward. Adults are judgmental at times. With children, even if they are eliminated, one of them will change and take it in a positive way.
What are your thoughts on kids participating and cooking on a reality show?
I think we have taken a very big step. All the big Michelin-starred chefs talk about how they started cooking from childhood. The kids who are participating and watching will definitely get inspired to get more Michelin stars for our country.
Nowadays kids have many more resources than children had earlier.
It is difficult to digest or make people believe that kids can cook, that the reality show is real. To teach is great but to inspire is divine. I am sure these kids will inspire others.
Image: Surjan Singh, Vikas Khanna, Kunal Kapur
'There is nothing going on between Padma Lakshmi and me'
We recently saw the junior edition of MasterChef Australia. Are our kids on par with them?
The subject and the exposure are different so comparing our kids with them wouldn't be fair.
We come from a multicultural society and we have a collective aspiration to go forward. The American kids have more opportunities; I could make it in America because I had the hunger to move forward.
I see the same hunger in our kids now because they come from a diverse country. You can't anticipate what you will witness in the show and what they are going to create.
Which MasterChef Australia judge do you most connect with?
I am a big fan of MasterChef Australia. I love the way George (Calombaris) has carried himself over the years. He is a man of dignity.
There are reports that you are dating Top Chef judge Padma Lakshmi. Is that so?
I am married to my restaurant Junoon in the US and I am in an important relationship with MasterChef.
I am a big admirer of Padma Lakshmi’s work. She has done fantastic work in terms of Indian culture and food. There is nothing going on.
Image: Surjan Singh, Vikas Khanna and Kunal Kapur with the kids