Vikram Vij was born in India in 1964 and lived in New Delhi and Bombay until the age of 20, when he went to study, live and work in Austria. While he was there he received his chef certificate from the Salzburg Hotel Management School. Vikram moved to Canada in 1989 to work at the Banff Springs Hotel in Alberta. Vikram became a certified sommelier from the International Sommelier Guild in 2000, and is passionate about pairing wines with his cuisine.
The Vij’s Group of Companies
In September 1994, Vikram opened Vij’s Restaurant in Vancouver, BC. In early 1995, a passionate and a creative Meeru Dhalwala joined him, and the two began collaborating on the menu. Over the past 20-plus years, Vij’s Restaurant has become renowned in Vancouver, across Canada and globally as one of the finest Indian dining experiences in the world. In 2003, New York Times food writer Mark Bittman said of Vij’s that it was: “…easily among the finest Indian restaurants in the world.” In December 2015, Vij’s moved to a new, larger location on Vancouver’s Cambie Street.
In 2004, Vikram and Meeru opened a second restaurant and market called Vij’s Rangoli. A more casual space, Rangoli caters to a lunchtime crowd, as well as an evening and late night audience with its later opening hours in Vancouver’s South Granville neighbourhood. With a focus on a specially created drinks menu and late night Indian bar snacks, Rangoli is the most recent addition to the area’s growing after-hours community.
In June 2014, Vikram opened his third restaurant, My Shanti, based in South Surrey. The theme of My Shanti is Vikram’s culinary travels and his influences, and it includes flavours and ingredients from all over the world. Within weeks of opening, My Shanti received a nomination from Air Canada’s enRoute Magazine as one of Canada’s Best New Restaurants and has since won multiple accolades.
Vij’s At Home
As well as a line of frozen, prepackaged gourmet curries based on popular recipes from Vij’s Restaurant, Vij’s foods are also available as part of his service range sold at BC Place stadium and Rogers Arena in Vancouver. Vij’s hot and takeout foods are also sold as part of the From Our Chefs range at select Loblaw’s City Markets in B.C.
Awards and Accolades
In June 2011, the BC Food Processors Association honoured Vikram with the Rising Star Award. In October 2011, he was awarded The Ernst and Young Entrepreneur of the Year award for the Pacific Region’s Hospitality and Tourism category. In April 2015, Vikram was named Chef of the Year in Vancouver Magazine’s prestigious Restaurant Awards. Vij’s Restaurant also received the magazine’s Best Indian Award in 2015; and in 2016, My Shanti won the Gold award in that category. In 2014, My Shanti was named Best New Restaurant by the Globe and Mail. The Surrey Board of Trade named Vikram as Surrey’s Business Person of the Year in 2014, and Drishti Magazine gave Vij’s the Innovation in Gastronomy Award in 2015. Vikram received the Chevrolet Ingenuity Award for exceptional creativity and skill at RBC’s 2015 Top 25 Canadian Immigrant Awards. In 2017 My Shanti was named Best Restaurant in Surrey, Delta, White Rock and Langley in the 2017 Georgia Straight Golden Plate Awards. In 2016, Vikram was named as a Canada 150 ambassador as part of the celebrations of Canada’s 150th anniversary of confederation.
Television, Books and Media
Vikram was a guest judge on Top Chef Canada in 2011 and 2012 and he was the guest of honour in a 2013 Top Chef Canada episode dedicated to Indian cuisine. That episode also featured the Vij’s At Home packaged foods, which were sampled by the contestants. He was also a judge on the first ever Chopped Canada show, which premiered on Food Network Canada in January 2014 and he appeared weekly on CBC’s Recipe to Riches which began in February of 2014.
October 2014 saw Vikram make his debut as the first Indo-Canadian Dragon on CBC’s Dragons’ Den. He took his place in the Den alongside esteemed entrepreneurs: Jim Treliving, Arlene Dickenson, David Chilton and Michael Wekerle. During Vikram’s time in the Den, he invested in a number of new businesses and continues to work with the entrepreneurs involved.
In March 2013, Vikram hosted the world’s first ever live-streamed cook-along, Cook Live With Vikram Vij. As part of Vikram’s goal, to make Indian cuisine accessible to all, people were encouraged to join him live online and cook a family meal at the same time, taking instruction from an award-winning chef. They were able to Tweet questions and photos as the curry was being prepared. The first cook-along received more than 10,000 hits.
Vikram released his autobiography in spring of 2017, entitled Vij: A Chef’s One Way Ticket to Canada With Indian Spices In His Suitcase. It tells the story of his journey to Canada thanks to his mentor Ivor Petrak, former manager of the Banff Springs Hotel, and the growth of his businesses over the past 30 years.
Vikram is also the co-author of three cookbooks with Meeru Dhalwala: Vij’s: Elegant & Inspired Indian Cuisine, Vij’s At Home: Relax, Honey and Vij’s Indian: Our Stories, Spice and Cherished Recipes.
Vikram has long been involved with the Chef’s Table Society of British Columbia, Farm Folk City Folk Organization, Ocean Wise Sustainable Seafood, UBC Farm fundraisers and the Green Table Society. As well, Vikram and Meeru’s commitment to the work done at UBC resulted in the funding and opening of Vij’s Kitchen, a state-of-the-art culinary learning facility at the University of British Columbia, dedicated to teaching the chefs and nutritionists of the future about ethnic food and cuisine.
In June 2015, Vikram and Meeru received honorary Doctorates of Law from Vancouver’s Simon Fraser University and in May 2016, Vikram and Meeru were honoured with Doctorates from the University of British Columbia.