Continuing work on the publication of his latest book Utsav, Michelin-starred chef Vikas Khanna still has a lot to do, but he is enjoying the process. A ladies man, the Amritsar-born mega cook has won the hearts of millions with just his smile and is now the face of a new show called India’s Megakitchen on National Geographic Channel. Not hesitating to call these kitchens food temples, Khanna, 43, says, “It was a whole new experience to see the scale, process and technology used to prepare large quantities of food every day. It is difficult to get into these kitchens and I am glad Nat Geo has made it possible to bring these institutions together and cover the minutest details of these kitchens.”
In this season, the show will feature five kitchens — Dharmasthala, Shirdi, TajSATS, IRCTC and Akshaya Patra. Though all of them are unique in their own way, Khanna’s favourite is Akshaya Patra, which provides mid-day meals to school children. “It caters to over 1.4 million children each day,” he says. With 12 episodes shot over a span of two months, Khanna says, “TajSATS employs 509 staff members. IRCTC has a staff of 33, including two inspectors, five managers, 13 cooks and 13 helpers. Dharmasthala is administered and managed entirely by a single family — the Heggades — who have carried on for 21 generations.”
On how these kitchens operate, the New York-based chef says, “These kitchens use a mix of technology and manual processes to ensure hygiene, speed and efficiency.” The kitchen at Shirdi — India’s largest solar-powered kitchen — starts operations at 7 am to use sunlight effectively through the day. These mega kitchens have existed for decades, but this is the first time they will be shown on a mega scale.
From June 22, Monday to Thursday. At 10 pm, on National Geographic Channel.
—Mayuri J Ravi