5@5 - Vikas Khanna
April 6th, 2011
05:00 PM ET
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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.

Is there someone you'd like to see in the hot seat? Let us know in the comments below and if we agree, we'll do our best to chase 'em down.

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Filed under: 5@5 • Culture • Rituals • Think


soundoff (23 Responses)
  1. Maria

    Kitchen is my paradise. I have always appreciated good food and also love cooking and feel more over whelmed while serving the food and receiving all the appreciations. wooo what a relief! Chef knife is one of the most precious asset of mine. now a mother of a son, I feel its time for me to take a step towards building up my own career, will start from the scratch, and prove myself, and will one day stand next to Chef Vikas Khanna.

    October 24, 2011 at 4:14 am |
  2. Teen Age Mutant Rodent Bung Super Fighters(on vacation at this moment in the carribean)

    The article forgot # 6 which is to look around for your nearest teen age mutant rodent bung suerfighter (gerbals) stinky,pinky,dinky,or kinky(the perve) insert gerbal into the bung in a bent over fashion,turn,aim and fire!!!! And watch the rodent(gerbals) launch from the bung at a speed of 45 MPH. Ans they transform into flying super/fighters ready to fight crime in your local neiborhood ...

    April 7, 2011 at 5:25 pm |
  3. The Tornado

    It's complete chaos when I am cooking several things in the kitchen! As much as I love food, to cook, to create, I know I could never do it professionally because of the hectic aspect. Mad respect to the chefs out there!

    I can walk into the office with servers' UPSs beeping, phones ringing, employees in a panic, network down, etc. and I can take control and figure it out one thing at a time. But, when I have a steak going under the broiler, veggies on the stove and pasta boiling I turn into a madman.

    April 7, 2011 at 2:36 pm |
  4. Parminder

    Personally having known vikas for three years in a row being his rom mate and colleague he is highly motivating and charismatic bundle of persona exemplified hard working , focussed and witty that's him.

    April 7, 2011 at 3:10 am |
  5. Dorothy

    I have met Vikas and he is BEAUTIFUL, inside out. He seems to be so calming in the kitchen. Though like thousands of people we wish, he discussed his personal life more. You know what I mean. Beautiful article.

    April 7, 2011 at 3:00 am |
  6. mimi_nef

    I am both a chemist and a great home cook.

    Both require ingredients, in the right amount, added in the right order.

    NOTHING relieves stress more than preparation. As my mother says, "The harder I work, the luckier I get!"

    Mise en place, people!!! It rules!!

    April 6, 2011 at 11:28 pm |
    • Kat Kinsman

      My Dad is a chemist and a great home cook as well. There is really something to that.

      April 7, 2011 at 1:35 am |
  7. Alohadeb

    I thoroughly enjoyed this article. I love preparing gourmet meals and taking my guests on a culinary adventure. My four legged buddies, Moka and Java, love it just as much, as they get to savor any scraps that may be left over at the end of the meal. I have always gotta plan. I turn up the tunes, look through my library of cook books that I have collected over the last 40 and get inspired to create something with what is in the fridge. I love spur of the moment meals. I rarely get flustered in the kitchen but when I do, I always think of a recovery plan. Cooking brings me great enjoyment! Bon Apetit!

    April 6, 2011 at 9:17 pm |
  8. PJ

    I find "Mise en place" is the best way to keep stress down.

    April 6, 2011 at 8:33 pm |
  9. Chef North

    A home kitchen is the complete opposite of a restaurant kitchen.

    April 6, 2011 at 7:49 pm |
  10. Paula

    I use cooking to calm down after a hectic day, so I could really appreciate what this article was all about-my kitchen is my little zen place.

    April 6, 2011 at 7:41 pm |
  11. Jeff

    Playing The Beatles or The Stones very loud while you're cooking doesn't hurt either!

    April 6, 2011 at 7:07 pm |
  12. Nedda Carroll

    I have the utmost respect for cooks who are impartial,kind and clean and funny.I love to cook!

    April 6, 2011 at 6:59 pm |
  13. fuyuko

    I'm mellow in the kitchen. I enjoy cooking and it doesn't freak me out.

    April 6, 2011 at 6:23 pm |
  14. fob

    I love this. Especially his last line.

    April 6, 2011 at 6:21 pm |
  15. chef cal

    sounds good ill try some of those things

    April 6, 2011 at 6:17 pm |
  16. Anon_e_mouse

    I'm cool, calm and collected in the kitchen... except when I realize I have forgotten something. Then there's a moment of panic until I figure out how to adjust whatever I'm making so that the missing ingredient doesn't matter (or until I realize I have to start over because it just can't be done any other way). I don't have the culinary skills to be one of TV's Iron Chefs, but I wouldn't have any trouble handling the pressure.

    April 6, 2011 at 6:16 pm |
  17. Tazer

    Mmmmmmmmmmmmmm

    April 6, 2011 at 6:09 pm |
  18. JBJingles

    WOW, and wow. Love the article!

    April 6, 2011 at 5:34 pm |
    • JBJingles

      I especially like #4. I practice this at home and at work and I think it really does pay off in the long run, unless someone sees it as a weakness and tries to take advantage, then I will let loose...

      April 6, 2011 at 6:25 pm |
    • Wzrd1

      Well, I've been known to cuss myself out, when I screw up a recipe. I've cussed out broken equipment, but in both cases, I move on and fix the situation.

      April 6, 2011 at 7:48 pm |
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