Michelin Star-Chef Vikas Khanna releases ‘Phygital’ cookbook in U.S.

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Michelin Star Chef Vikas Khanna, left, and Ganesh Raju, CEO, Akshaya.io, in New York for launch of the ‘phygital’ version of Khanna’s book, Sacred Foods of India, Aug. 23, 2022. Photo: courtesy Akshaya.io

Vikas Khanna, renowned Michelin star chef, and Akshaya, a Metaverse, NFT, and digital twin platform, recently released Sacred Foods of India, a “phygital,” or physical and digital, cookbook Non-Fungible Token.

From left, Srini Santhanam, CFO of Akshaya.io; Dr. Deepak Chopra, world renowned health and wellness proponent, speaker, author; Vikas Khanna – Michelin star Chef, filmmaker and humanitarian; Ganesh Raju, CEO, Akshaya.io; and Rita Chopra, spouse of Deepak Chopra, at the Aug. 23, 2022, release of Khanna’s ‘phygital’ version of Sacred Foods of India’ at the Indian Consulate. Photo: Akshaya.io

The U.S. launch of Sacred Foods of India was celebrated in honor of the 75th anniversary of India’s independence at the Indian Consulate in New York on Tuesday, August 23, 2022. Among the attendees at the Consulate event was Dr. Deepak Chopra, globally renowned proponent of health and wellness, and author of numerous books, and Padma Shri recipient Dr. Sudhir Parikh, chairman of U.S.-based Parikh Worldwide Media and ITV Gold.

August 23, 2022, event at Indian Consulate in New York, to launch Michelin Star Chef Vikas Khanna ‘phygital’ book Sacred Foods of India. Photo: ITV Gold

The event, hosted by Consul General Randhir Jaiswal, featured speeches from dignitaries, and a display of the cookbook and contributions by the Indian Diaspora to the world.

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Apart from being a cookbook writer, Khanna is a restaurateur, filmmaker, humanitarian, and host of MasterChef India.

Renowned Michelin Star Chef Vikas Khanna, 3rd from left, with Padma Shri recipient Dr. Sudhir Parikh, chairman of Parikh Worldwide Media/ITV Gold, 2nd from right, and executives of Akashaya.io, at the August 23, 2022, event to launch ‘phygital’ verion of Khanna’s book, Sacred Foods of India. Photo: ITV Gold.
Dr. Deepak Chopra and Dr. Sudhir Parikh at the U.S. launch of Michelin Start Chef Vikas Khanna’s ‘phygital’ book, Sacred Foods of India, August 23, 2022, at the Indian Consulate in New York. Photo: ITV Gold.

“I wanted to combine the digital and physical into this one-of-a-kind collectible like no other cookbook author has done before,” Khanna is quoted saying. “I am proud to share this innovative work of art, the incredible history and flavors of Indian cuisine within, as well as the compelling stories that make these sacred, uniting recipes so special.”

Khanna developed the vegetarian cookbook from a compilation of more than 100 ‘holy recipes’ delving into the diversity of Indian heritage and culture. The recipes in the book showcase foods of different religions to highlight how people can better understand one another and celebrate diversity and democracy, closing the divide that exists today, the press release said.

The 420-page book lists 108 holy recipes from 66 Hindu temples, five gurudwaras, five mosques and/or dargahs, two prominent Buddhist monasteries, one Jewish synagogue, and one church, specifically focusing on traditions and cultures followed during preparation of prasad and/or foods served at religious places in India for many centuries.

For its latest distribution, Sacred Foods of India is nestled inside an antique-styled solid maple and walnut wooden box with Swarovski crystals. It also contains an NFT, created by Akshaya, stored in Ethereum Blockchain with access to a digital twin component providing a certificate of authenticity and ownership to the physical copy.

According to the press release, Akshaya.io is India’s first-ever platform that brings Metaverse, NFT, and Digital Twin together to enable users to claim ownership of physical and digital assets with certified proof of authenticity.

“With just over 250 copies in existence, Khanna’s limited-quantity work with Akshaya is revolutionizing the cookbook space,” the press release said.

The partnership between Khanna and Akshaya is the first of its kind, “blazing a new path for how food, which is elementally physical, can become part of the digital world via NFTs and digital twin,” the press release said.

Those behind the venture believe this kind of partnership allows people to unite over food in new, unexplored ways. “The benefits of connecting over food no longer have to exist only at the dinner table,” they contend.

Khanna, a James Beard nominee and one of the first Indian chefs to be awarded a Michelin Star in the U.S., has been featured amongst the 10 most influential chefs in the world by Deutsche Welle and Gazette Review. Apart from being the host of MasterChef India, he also hosts Twist of Taste and Mega Kitchens on National Geographic.

Author of 38 award winning books, including UTSAV (World’s most expensive cookbook) and the creator of documentary series Holy Kitchens and Kitchens of Gratitude, Khanna founded the Museum of Kitchen Arts, which is home to thousands of India’s unique kitchen tools and equipment, at his alma mater, WGSHA (Welcome Group Graduate School of Hotel Administration), Manipal, India.

His restaurants, Kinara and Ellora in Dubai are rated as ‘Favorite Indian Restaurant’ by Conde Nast.

His philanthropic initiative, Feed India, served more than 65 million meals during the Covid-19 Pandemic.

His debut film, The Last Color was eligible for the 2020 Oscars race in the category of Best Feature.

Akshaya.io has been working with companies trading in jewelry, boutique furniture, artefacts, sports, entertainment, and other sectors. The company has so far invested $10 million through internal accruals from founder and seed investors. Currently, Akshaya.io has physical offices across 45 cities in India, Bangladesh, and Nepal, the press release said.

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