Saturday, April 9, 2011

CNN: Vikas Khanna shares 5 tips for staying calm.

5@5 is a daily, food-related list from chefs, writers, political pundits, musicians, actors, and all manner of opinionated people from around the globe.
The kitchen - both in the professional sense and at home - is a hectic place. When the mille-feuille goes awry, it's easy to slip into a whirl of profanities that would make Bobby Knight blush.
Instead of flinging the nearest soup ladle at an unsuspecting line cook, Vikas Khanna, the executive chef of Junoon and the creator of "The Holy Kitchens" documentary series, says keep calm and sauté on.
Five Ways I Keep Calm in the Kitchen: Vikas Khanna

1. Positive energy
"My grandmother taught me that your energy is transmitted through the food when you cook. Before preparing every meal my grandmother had a cup of tea and thought through everything she would be making before she started. I later came to understand that this technique is called visualization. When it gets hectic at Junoon, I try to remember her technique."
2. Keep it clean
"At the end of the night I always restore my sense of equilibrium by helping the porters clean the kitchen. When the kitchen is in good order and everything is cleaned and organized I feel a sense of clarity that prepares me for the next day. There are few things more frustrating than not being able to find your favorite pepper grinder or finding that your knives are not ready for work."
3. Meditation brings inner peace
"Meditation has positive effects that last much longer than just during the session. While we were building Junoon, I made sure that we set aside some space for all the employees to recharge their spiritual batteries. When we are able to share a few moments of calm contemplation it helps us handle the stress of the busy kitchen."
4. Not reacting in the moment
"Between you and me, sometimes people behave badly under stress. When this happens, it is your reaction that is the most important thing. If you respond in kind then you will escalate the aggravation. My greatest power is my ability to hold my response. I wait until after the dinner service is over and discuss the situation privately and gently. It doesn’t mean that I don’t get angry; I just choose to be in control of when and where that happens."
5. Remember your place
"I am just one in a very long line of cooks that stretch backwards through time; my mother (okay, she cooked only rarely) my grandmother, my great-grandmother, and the ancestors I never met and never heard of. One day I will be forgotten just like my ancestors and my legacy will be nothing, but the cooks that I have taught. I hope that I leave behind patient, calm and talented chefs."
Does cooking make your head boil, or are you as cool as a cucumber? Share your kitchen temperament in the comments


  1. Beautiful suggestions Vikasji. I teach and your five points reminded me of the few things that I try to practice as a teacher. Today I realize a classroom and a kitchen can be compared...afterall you handle food with love and care and to me my students learn through love and care.
    Thank you.

  2. Very nice...In a hectic, busy life following these tips is very important. However, its the fourth point "Not reacting in the moment" which makes a lot of sense to me right now. Its the start of the year..I'll try to make 'Not Reacting in the Moment' my New Year Resolution...Very nice thoughts. Thank you.

  3. Well I wonder if most of this, interestingly, is very typical of Indian households! Absolutely agree to those observations of yours cuz I am a staunch believer in the fact that your instantaneous mood and temperament reflects in your cooking. But in fact, as a person who is as awake as a vampire at 3 in the morning and cooks at that time to feed myself, I should say I can't find many reasons to complain about cooking :)