i. I work as an owner of Indian restaurants (Vij’s and My Shanti), in Vancouver and South Surrey.
ii. I do this creative work because:
It’s in my blood – I’m a chef and I want to share Indian cuisine with as many people as possible, to show them the diversity in the flavours, the culture in the ingredients, and the love in our recipes.
iii. A ‘typical’ day for me under Covid lockdown involves:
There hasn’t been a typical day yet – we have had to change directions so many times – from becoming takeout and delivery based restaurants, to merging our former Rangoli kitchen with our Vij’s one on Cambie Street, to now reopening with social distancing in place. It’s been a rollercoaster, and I hope that now moving forward, we have more typical days ahead, where we will continue to welcome our customers in our dining rooms and on our patios.
iv. Personal qualities that help me in my work are:
I am constantly looking for the next venture, and I think that keeps our business energized. I hope we have remained relevant over our 20+ years in business. I also try to remember those around me – it’s the people in our kitchen, the ones serving our diners, the people behind the scenes who have helped us maintain a quality of service – and I don’t forget that.
v. The greatest challenges around doing this work are:
It can be hard sometimes to stay focussed on the one thing that needs your attention, when there are so many things you need to do on a daily basis. I’ve tried to make time for myself and for my daughters recently, and it’s been a challenge to balance my time, but I’ve been determined to do it, and I’m proud that I have.
vi. Creative childhood hobbies:
I wanted to be a Bollywood actor when I was a child – my father said no, but I have continued to perform by being the host at our restaurants when I’m there each evening, so that’s something that has followed me from childhood.
vii. Other creators who inspire you:
I’ve said before that Gandhi is the person who inspires me on a spiritual and a human level, but when it comes to the kitchen, I would say chefs like Thomas Keller, who I cooked with a few years ago after admiring him for more than 20 years – and when it comes to creation itself, my daughters inspire me daily…they are creating their own way in this world, and I couldn’t be more proud to be their father.
viii. Training that has helped me in this career:
Of course the training I received in Europe before coming to Canada would be the ‘official’ training, but it’s the on-the-job training that you receive every day when you run your own business that can be the most brutal and the most impactful. I’ve made mistakes – I’ve written about them in my autobiography, so that’s not ‘breaking news’ – but I’ve gotten things right as well. It’s the combination of both those things that have put me where I am.
ix. A common trap that can hurt people in this career:
Forgetting who you were, where you came from, and who put you there.
x. Some proud career moments:
I set myself a particular number of goals to reach before I hit 50, and I achieved them all, like opening different restaurants, and launching new ventures like our frozen foods, but I think having my parents both here in Canada to see that their son did ok – that’s been very humbling and I’ve been grateful for that.
xi. Upcoming shows or events include:
Who knows what the future holds in terms of events – but I am looking forward to the Indian Summer Festival again this year, while being disappointed that we cannot all be together.
xii. If you want to work in my field, I suggest that you:
Practice cooking, don’t be afraid to experiment with flavours and ingredients and making a dish your own, and be curious – try different foods from different countries so you can learn about other cultures and the flavours, the styles of cooking, and the people behind them.
xiii. A professional goal I have for the future:
To come out of this COVID-19 situation strong – to be able to reconnect with our team, some of whom aren’t with us right now unfortunately. I hope people will embrace eating at restaurants more passionately than before, and to crave being together and experiencing dining out with a pleasure they took for granted before.
xiv. If you want to see my work, go to:
Vij’s Restaurant, 3106 Cambie Street, and My Shanti, Morgan Crossing, South Surrey.
July 11 | Vij’s at Home
Celebrity chef Vikram Vij gives a masterclass in Indian cuisine along with Leo award-winning actor Agam Darshi. Menu will feature three plant-based dishes that make up a complete meal for two. Part interview and part cooking class followed by a dinner party for those purchasing the special package option.
Time: 7:01 PDT
To mark 10 years of creativity, the Indian Summer Festival is presenting 10 mega-events, streamed on digital channels every Saturday, from May 16th to July 18th. All events are free to view, or by donation, with an acknowledgement that this is a difficult time for many.
For access to events, visit indiansummerfest.ca