A look at the first phygital NFT cookbook, “Sacred Foods of India,” with Michelin-starred chef Vikas Khanna

A look at the first phygital NFT cookbook, “Sacred Foods of India,” with Michelin-starred chef Vikas Khanna

Giving readers a taste of India, Michelin-starred chef Vikas Khanna talks about his limited-edition collectible NFT cookbook.

You are an influential Michelin-starred chef. What does the international recognition mean to you?
My Indian heritage is very important to me. Through my county’s cuisine, I was given a voice to share stories and empower different communities. Recognition means very little if it is not put to good use. Creating something new that supports or lends a hand and inspires other people is what matters. The titles are ones I respect, but I feel that they are valuable because they helped me tell the story.

How did the idea of releasing the first phygital NFT cookbook cross your mind?
The idea behind releasing the first NFT cookbook came from an urge to connect future generations with our ancestral values, foods and culture. You see people serving food selflessly at temples, monasteries, mosques and Mother Theresa’s kitchen. This practice, which has been going on for centuries, is truly amazing. At the same time, I feel that it is also part of our collective heritage, which is why we have to find a way to link these amazing holy kitchens to future generations. I also wanted to have a magnum opus cookbook, so the only way to achieve it was to release a phygital NFT book: an investment that people can make money out of. In parallel, the digital format resonates with the new generation, for whom this book is written. The intention is to help them understand India in the way we grew up. Furthermore, my hope is that these holy institutions continue to nurture the physical and spiritual aspects of life, and that readers of “Sacred Foods of India” are inspired by my motherland, regardless of where they live.

Why did you choose to partner with Akshaya on this project?
I have fond memories of my first meeting with Ganesh Raju, CEO of Akshaya. Ganesh Raju and Akshaya know that I am guided by my instincts, and the moment I feel safe and sense similar values, I just give my heart and soul; this is precisely what happened with the team of Akshaya. We were aligned in our vision to showcase India in a variety of ways, not in just the culinary sense but also artistically. You can’t expect new results if you always do the same thing, so I had to try something innovative and enter the metaverse.

What are the unique qualities of Indian cuisine in general and those served at holy sites in particular?
“Sacred Foods of India” explores food served to the community at holy sites. However, I feel these dishes go beyond the physical; they are for spiritual consumption: they bring people together to create an egalitarian society. The significant challenge was producing this cookbook while recognizing that the recipes don’t belong to us — we inherit them. It was difficult to get the right measurements. We had to go back and keep testing the recipes to guarantee balance and the same taste.

What projects are you working on?
My goal is to bring to life projects that have value and create intellectual work to honor my roots. I have three additional books on the way and some amazing partnerships with innovative products on the market. Furthermore, I am releasing my perfume, something I am very proud and passionate about. The fragrance is currently available in the U.S. Also, Vikas Khanna by Celeste, a high-quality hand-made dinnerware range, pays tribute to beautiful memories created around food. In addition, I have worked released two documentaries, and I’m working on a film that’s due to come out in early 2023. The cherry on top is my new restaurant in New York. I hope that these projects make us proud as Indians and inspire others.

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About author

Rita Ghantous

Rita Ghantous is a hospitality aficionado and a passionate writer with over 9 years’ experience in journalism and 5 years experience in the hospitality sector. Her passion for the performance arts and writing, started early. At 10 years old she was praised for her solo performance of the Beatles song “All My Love” accompanied by a guitarist, and was approached by a French talent scout during her school play. However, her love for writing was stronger. Fresh out of school, she became a freelance journalist for Noun Magazine and was awarded the Silver Award Cup for Outstanding Poetry, by The International Library of Poetry (Washington DC). She studied Business Management and earned a Masters degree from Saint Joseph University (USJ), her thesis was published in the Proche-Orient, Études en Management book. She then pursued a career in the hospitality industry but didn’t give up writing, that is why she launched the Four Points by Sheraton Le Verdun Newsletter. Her love for the industry and journalism led her to Hospitality Services - the organizers of the HORECA trade show in Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Jordan, as well as Salon Du Chocolat, Beirut Cooking Festival, Whisky Live and other regional shows. She is currently the Publications Executive of Hospitality News Middle East, Taste & Flavors and Lebanon Traveler. It is with ultimate devotion for her magazines that she demonstrates her hospitality savoir-faire.

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