NY1’s latest 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.
“I was 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 disability."
And as a result, Vikas says he wanted to help others with disabilities.
“When 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.
“You see how they laugh about this class and [say], ÎI'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."
He's been conducting these workshops for nearly four and a half years, traveling all over the country.
“I simply 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."
Visions of 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 worldwide."
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 everyone."
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 Children.
So, for adding a little spice in the lives of people with disabilities, Vikas Khanna is our New Yorker of the Week.
If you want more information on Vikas Khanna and his work, log on to his website at www.vkhanna.com
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