Spreading Smiles Over Lunch with Chef Vikas Khanna

Chef Vikas Khanna with Jiten & Shalu Agarwal and sons Rahul and Varun, at the Agarwal residence on Saturday, March 25.

Chef Vikas Khanna with Jiten & Shalu Agarwal and sons Rahul and Varun, at the Agarwal residence on Saturday, March 25.

By Vanshika Vipin Varma

HOUSTON: This past weekend, Saturday, March 25 was a very special day at the charming residence of the Agarwals. Jiten & Shalu Agarwal played host to award-winning Michelin starred chef Vikas Khanna and Rajeev Sharma, the General Manager of Smile Foundation.

The renowned Smile Foundation is a NGO based out of New Delhi in India. Commendable work has been carried out for underprivileged children and their families by this institute since 2002 through various programs. The US chapter of this organization was being initiated at the India House Gala, later that evening by the Culinary God Chef Vikas Khanna himself, who was the Guest of Honor at the Gala. (See related article)

Chef Vikas Khanna helping Shalu Agarwal set up naans for lunch.

Chef Vikas Khanna helping Shalu Agarwal set up naans for lunch.

Both, Jiten Agarwal, who is the VP Finance at India House and the Gala Chair of the India House Gala 2017, as well as the famous Chef Vikas endorse the Smile Foundation. Chef Khanna is also the official Goodwill Ambassador of ‘Nutrition for Education’ initiative of the Foundation. Through this campaign, Smile Foundation aims to combat malnutrition and hunger among children. More than twenty one thousand less privileged children from over twenty-one states are benefited from this noble cause.

Chef Vikas Khanna is a person with many feathers in his cap. Not only he is one of the best Indian Chefs in the world, but also is a successful restaurateur, cookbook writer and a splendid humanitarian. As if his virtues were not enough, Chef is known to be the hottest Master Chef of India. People magazine listed him as one of the Sexiest Men Alive in its 2011 edition by referring to him as ‘The Hottest Chef of America’. Junoon, his signature restaurant boasts of being awarded a Michelin star for six consecutive years since 2011! Junoon is celebrated for an exceptional Indian dining experience.

At the lunch, the delicious vegetarian food was catered by Sunil Srivastava of Great W’Kana Houston. It turned out to be a very special event for foodies and Chef Vikas fans such as my hubby and me. I cannot stop raving about the charm and pleasant looks of Chef Vikas. His humility and well-grounded attitude floored us all. He turned out to be a package of abundant talent and great looks. His modesty was simply icing on the cake! We were in awe of how he personally spoke to everyone as he shared his abundant culinary knowledge. We all were enriched by his experiences and cooking tips. Food being the central topic, it wasn’t difficult to be amused by his humor as well.

Chef’s life story is as interesting as inspirational. Chef Vikas Khanna started his journey in our country with a pocketful of only $3 in 2000. Such dire straits forced him to survive in a shelter. But, hope wasn’t lost. Sincere endeavors, perseverance and determination encouraged him to go on a super successful path in the gastronomic world of food. A classic story of rags-to-riches, his struggle motivated him to give back to the society and thus explains his association with Smile Foundation. After speaking a little about the foundation, Chef convinced all of us to contribute in our little way. He said: “I need all of you to come forward and share with me to ensure that we all be the reason for these kids to smile, its one life that we all have, let’s make it meaningful. I am so privileged to have Jiten’s acceptance as a President of Smile Foundation, USA”.

It was indeed a memorable event that spread smiles on all our faces. There was a lot we learnt from the great Chef especially his attribute of giving back to the community that too with a smile! I was particularly amazed and inspired.

For further details about the foundation, please visit its website at www.smilefoundiationindia.org