Chef Vikas Khanna Uses Food
Classes To Expand Horizons For The Visually
January 20, 2006
New Yorker of the Week is using the sense of taste to
expand the horizons for the visually impaired.
It was an eye injury that gave 34-year-old chef
Vikas Khanna a whole new look on life.
traveling in India when I got my first eye accident,
which left me partially blind on the left eye,” he says.
“It makes me understand life in a better way. It makes
me see better and more clear with having this kind of
And as a result, Vikas says he
wanted to help others with disabilities.
you taste something it reminds us of a moment," he says.
He began conducting workshops called Vision of
Palate for the visually impaired. At Selis Manor in
Chelsea, the latest lesson was on spices.
see how they laugh about this class and [say], ‘I'm
going to try this tonight. I'm going to do this
tomorrow. I'll have a party tomorrow,’” says Khanna. “It
just gets everyone involved, and food is one thing which
brings a lot of people together."
conducting these workshops for nearly four and a half
years, traveling all over the country.
love to learn about what spices go with different
things,” says class participant Virginia Bass. “I love
to learn about marinating food. We don't have just
general access to this information."
Palate is just one of the many things Vikas has on his
plate. He also volunteers his time at Mother Theresa
soup kitchens, God's Love We Deliver, City Meals on
Wheels, and he even has his own non-profit organization.
"It's New York Chefs Cooking for Life,” he says.
“I created this foundation a few years ago in which I
put the city's top chefs together and we organize
tasting evenings. We raise money for different causes
starting from tsunami to the Gulf Coast. Now I'm taking
this whole concept of New York Chefs Cooking for Life
And with the help of SATH - the
Society for Accessible Travel and Hospitality - Vikas
says that he hopes within the next decade to host events
at world historical sites. His first course is at the
pyramids in Egypt in July with 20 other chefs.
"I want to have like, you know, the restrooms
wheelchair accessible at these world monuments,” he
says. “I want to have most of them accessible. I feel
they have a soul which has to be equally enjoyed by
And if he hasn't filled you up yet,
Vikas has also written books. All the proceeds go to
various causes, like one which raises money for Save the
So, for adding a little spice in the
lives of people with disabilities, Vikas Khanna is our
New Yorker of the Week.