What homelessness taught Vikas Khanna


Many years before he became a Michelin-starred chef, one whose book UTSAV was presented to the likes of Barack Obama, Queen Elizabeth II, Pope Francis, and the Dalai Lama, Vikas Khanna was a poor Indian immigrant in New York City who unexpectedly found himself homeless after the deli he worked for closed.

Khanna described his homeless experience at the New York Rescue Mission in vivid detail. He arrived there one winter day to see a line of people waiting to attend a Christmas party. Asked whether he would stay the night, Khanna agreed — but gave a false name out of embarrassment. “You want to feel that you can become invisible,” he said.


But his time at New York Rescue Mission taught him resilience, and even furthered his cooking career. During his stay, he began to cook meals for other residents, an activity that helped restore his dignity.

“You figure out one day that the sun is going to rise tomorrow and I’m going to be on my feet”



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