Lake Isle Press

Return to the Rivers Launches in America

Yesterday evening, we at Lake Isle Press were in for a special treat: Vikas Khanna's official book launch party for Return to the Rivers, at his Manhattan restaurant, Junoon.

When we arrived with plenty of books in hand, Vikas greeted us with hugs and hurried off for an interview. We helped Vikas's crew set up, with many discussions ensuing...."We should put the books here - no, there!" And, "What on earth are they doing with that table?" And, "How does this arrangement that book tilting oddly to the left?" And even, "Maybe we should move those massive candles so they don't inturrupt the flow of the party!"

Above, our final book arrangement, with the candles appropriately moved out of the way. Below, the backdrop for Vikas's speech.

Finally, everything was arranged perfectly, and guests began to arrive - photographers, reporters, patrons, and other significant people. A DJ played upbeat Indian music, and trays of white and red wine circulated. As the room grew more crowded, delicious hors d'ouerves also were passed: cheesy naan, spicy shrimp, little lamb toasts, tiny glasses of tomato soup, saucy cauliflower, and tender chicken (I know, I should have taken photos!)

About an hour into the party, Vikas appeared to make his speech. He spoke about the journey of Return to the Rivers, telling stories about the people who helped him along the way. In New York, he cooked for hire in peoples' homes and ended up cooking for the Rubin family. Owners of the Rubin Museum of Art, which showcases Himalayan art, the Rubins hired Vikas to work in their museum cafe.

After working there for many years, Vikas opened Junoon and contacted Hiroko at Lake Isle about his project about Himalayan food. The manuscript needed quite a bit of work, so although it was Vikas's first piece, it was not published first. Rather, he then wrote and published Flavors First, and went back to Return to the Rivers when Flavors was successsful. Vikas' speech was both touching and inspiring, tracking his career from a struggling young cook to the successful man he is today.

When Vikas finished, he interviewed with a series of reporters. Then he signed books and made rounds to speak with and take photos with guests. While Vikas made his rounds, the waiters brought out desserts - tiny raspberry cakes and eclairs. The party contiuned on for at least another hour, overall a highly successful and unusually liveley book release.

Cheers to Vikas and his new book!


Meagan Goldman is a food-lover and aspiring writer. You can follow her at

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