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After a whirlwind US tour through Boston, four cities in the Bay Area and Los Angeles, Padma Shri Masterchef Sanjeev Kapoor returned to India, accomplishing a feat like no other. Traveling through seven cities in 10 days for Akshaya Patra, an NGO he supports, he spoke, auctioned signed dinner plates, gala tables and memorabilia and raised a whopping $2.1 million dollars for a cause dear to his heart.

With his wit, charm and complete dedication to a cause, Kapoor regaled audiences everywhere with poignant stories from his career while bringing into focus the painful facts of hunger in India.

Kapoor spoke about his own childhood, with dramatic style narrated the three very different lives that his father led as he moved from Pakistan to Indiaafter the partition of the subcontinent. The story emphasized the point that given a chance everyone could succeed. “Everyone deserved a chance; that no child should be denied an education because of hunger.”

In the Bay Area, with notable executives and dignitaries from the Silicon Valley present, Kapoor appealed to the audience to open their purse strings to Akshaya Patra, an NGO that serves 1.6 million midday meals to children in 13,200 government schools in 12 states in India. Akshaya Patra has scaled from serving 1,500 meals in 2002 to becoming the biggest midday meal program in the world, operating 29 centralized, ISO certified kitchens and transporting the food to schools up to a distance of 40 km.

In a conversation with Masterchef at the Sanatan Dharma temple in Los Angeles with over 300 guests present, comedian and Emcee Rajiv Satyal asked “why Akshaya Patra?”. Kapoor replied his journey was about good food and Akshaya Patra was all about food. Just like his own journey where cooking food for his family and friends and also presenting it to millions of viewers on television show for over 20 years gave him joy, the joy of giving is much more than the joy of receiving.

At the Spice Affair restaurant in Beverly Hills with just under 100 donors present, he spoke about the circle of giving and receiving; everything he gave has come back to him many times over. His message to the audience was to give to the have-not, give for selfish reasons, because it felt good. Sanjeev Kapoor raised over $925,000 within a half hour, auctioning off tables for Akshaya Patra’s Diwali benefit gala on October 28 in Los Angeles.

Vandana Tilak, a director of the Board for Akshaya Patra USA thanked the Masterchef and his wife Alyona for taking the time out in their busy schedules to support the march against hunger and going above and beyond to ensure every opportunity was explored and dedicated to serving a mid day meal to children in India.

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