Michelin-star chef Vikas Khanna honoured for feeding millions in India amid COVID-19


New York: Michelin-star chef Vikas Khanna will be honoured with the prestigious 2020 ‘Asia Game Changer Award’. Vikas Khanna will get the award for feeding millions across India amid the COVID-19 pandemic. The star chef did this through a massive food distribution drive. He coordinated the entire drive from thousands of miles away from his Manhattan home.

The ‘Asia Game Changer Awards’ was launched by the Asia Society – a US-based non-profit organisation in 2014. The awards identify and honour true leaders who make a positive contribution to the future of Asia. Khanna, 48, is the only Indian among the six honourees named by the leading organisation on Wednesday.

Pre-eminent cellist Yo-Yo Ma, tennis champion Naomi Osaka, Korean boy band BTS are among other winners. Also in the list are producer of Oscar-winning film Parasite Miky Lee.

Khanna is being honoured ‘for dropping everything to feed millions in India at a time of great need and suffering’. As the COVID-19 pandemic hit India, the chef, launched a food distribution drive that steadily reached millions across the country. Since April, Khanna’s #FeedIndia initiative has distributed 35 million meals. Also 500,000 slippers, 3.5 million sanitary pads, two millions masks have been distributed in cities across India.

Khanna told this agency he feels ‘humbled’ by the honour from an eminent organisation. He praised Asia Society for playing a tremendous role in promoting Asian culture. “I’m humbled to be among such a great line-up of awardees,” he said.

The chef stated that, over the years the Asia Society has honoured people who wield tremendous ‘cultural influence’. Among those honoured in the past are actor Dev Patel and Nobel laureate Malala Yousafzai.

Khanna had earlier said that he feels the past 30 years have been preparing him for this moment of humanitarian crisis. “This has been the most gratifying (time) in my culinary career,” he stated.

The virtual event to honour the awardees will be held in October. It will also feature a special message by New York Governor Andrew Cuomo.

The Asia Society said while Khanna has been feeding people since he was a child, ‘but not until 2020 did it become a matter of life or death’.