Active Restaurateur: Vikram Vij

Vikram Vij was born in India in December 1964 and lived in New Delhi and Bombay until 1984. He studied Hotel Management in Salzburg, Austria. Since 1989 he has been living in Canada and worked in various capacities at the Banff Springs Hotel, as well as at Bishop’s and Rain City Grill restaurants in Vancouver. In September 1994 he opened Vij’s Restaurant.

Vikram and his wife, Meeru, create all the recipes at Vij’s and the menu changes according to the seasons. The menu consists of seven appetizers and nine main courses. The wine list carries twelve different varietales that also change in conjunction with the menu.

Vij’s Restaurant won Vancouver magazine’s 1995 and 1997 to 2002 gold award for best South Asian restaurant and won Where magazine’s 1999 and 2001 Most Memorable Meal Awards for best ethnic restaurant. Vij’s was listed in the top five Vancouver restaurants in Gourmet magazine’s 1999 annual restaurant awards. In May 1998, Vij’s was one of the twenty featured restaurants at the James Beard Annual Gala Awards and Dinner in New York City, and has been invited to prepare dinner at the James Beard House. Vij’s Restaurant has also been featured in several North American television broadcasts and publications, including Food and Television Network, CNN, The Globe and Mail, The New York Times, The Washington Post, Travel and Leisure, Food and Wine, Bon Appetit and Sunset. Vij’s was also featured in the spring 2000 issue of Art Culinaire. In Autumn 2001, Vikram became a member of the Chaine des Rotisseurs.

Interview with Vikram Vij

What was your first job in the industry?

My first job in the industry was in the kitchen, in Austria, as a three-month practicum that I had to do in school. I was 20.

What is the most memorable moment of your career?

I think looking at the majestic Banff Springs Hotel when I landed from Austria in 1990. Looking at that beautiful hotel and the beautiful mountains, I somehow felt that I belonged in this country. I felt that this was the country where I was going to spend the rest of my life.

What advice do you have for people just starting out in the industry?

The advice would be to remain focused, work extremely hard, work under some good chefs – train and learn well, basically.

What do you think is the biggest issue facing restaurateurs today?

The balance of local foods to the price point of what people are willing to pay.

What’s the next step for raising the bar in the B.C. foodservice industry?

Always learn to broaden your horizons, always learn from somebody else who knows what they’re doing, and always be willing to learn. How do you raise the bar? Just keep pushing your own limits.

Interview by Jessica Scharien

Click on the images below to start videos

Introduction movie shown during the BC Restaurant Hall of Fame Gala, April 2008.

Interview and award acceptance speech recorded during the BC Restaurant Hall of Fame Gala, April 2008.

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