The Fine Dining Chef Supporting Migrants And Feeding The Hungry
“Helping people has nothing to do with how much money you have. It is all about empathy. The least I can do as a chef is to cook,” says Indian-born chef Deepanker Khosla, who transformed his Indian fine dining restaurant, Haoma in Bangkok, into a soup kitchen when the global pandemic hit Thailand. Khosla’s mission was to keep those at the bottom of the pyramid fuelled.
With experience operating a 100% green food truck as well as one of the world’s most eco-friendly restaurants where, as a champion of inclusivity almost all of the staff members he employs are migrants, the chef realised that sustaining humanity is as crucial as sustaining the environment in the midst of a global pandemic. Without any support from the government and with limited welfare policies, migrants and the jobless were hit hardest as Covid-19 took hold. To keep society sustained, Khosla took up the responsibility, with the power of his kitchen knife, to provide for the needy.
It all started in March 2020, when the government announced the first-ever lockdown only 48 hours in advance, asking restaurants to close and cutting off the means of support for many. With piles of food left in the kitchen, Khosla decided to hand meals over to the homeless near the railway station. The number of people seeking help was huge—500 refugees were queuing for the 120 meals he had on hand.
There’s a saying in India: “No matter what happens, when there is a flood, earthquake or a storm, the mother’s door never shuts.” Khosla was—and continues to be—determined to be that “mother” and to care for the underprivileged and overlooked. It is this simple intention that keeps him going, now almost 18 months into his #NoOneHungry Campaign. The team prepares 500 meals for the homeless, the out-of-work and those in need three times a week.
“Whoever you are, I don't check your passport before giving you the food. For me, it is something to do with saving humanity. A lot of people are dying of hunger, and if I can save one, I have already made a change,” says the chef. To date, the team has served more than 100,000 meals. But it hasn’t always been easy. Speaking of the greatest challenge during the campaign, Khosla recalls when he had to distribute food to nearly 800 people who had tested positive for Covid-19. It was nerve-wracking to be in the middle of something like that. Yet, nothing could hinder his support for the underprivileged.
Some believe that performing social acts is too expensive, but Khosla says, “In Bangkok, there are more than a thousand fine dining restaurants. If one meal costs 15 baht, and each restaurant cooks ten meals for 150 baht each day, 10,000 hungry people can get food. That 150 baht equates to just a packet of cigarettes. It is as simple as that.”
In July 2021, the chef was named a Champion of Change by World’s 50 Best and part of this new initiative includes a donation to the awardee’s cause. Khosla has committed to using the funding to start a full-time No One Hungry kitchen, humbly hoping that “no one goes hungry tonight”. To put things into perspective, he adds “Up to 10 July 2021, 4.47 million have died of hunger, whereas less than half a million people have died of Covid-19. What is the real pandemic here? These people have to be helped now.”
Chef Deepanker Khosla welcomes assistance of any kind—chefs, ingredients and funding. For more information, visit #NoOneHungry.