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.
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. In December 2015, Vij’s moved to a new, larger location on Vancouver’s Cambie Street.
Vij’s Restaurant has become renowned in Vancouver, across Canada and now 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 2004, Vikram and Meeru opened a second restaurant and market called Vij’s Rangoli. The market sells Vij’s At Home, a line of prepackaged gourmet curries, which are based on popular recipes from Vij’s Restaurant. In order to keep up with the growing demand for the packaged meals in BC, and to expand the availability of the products across Canada, a purpose-built food production facility in Surrey, BC, was constructed as the headquarters for Vij’s Inspired Indian Cuisine in early 2011 where the packaged meals are cooked by hand.
In June 2014, Vikram opened his third restaurant, My Shanti, based in South Surrey. The theme of the My Shanti menu is based upon Vikram’s culinary travels, and includes flavours, ingredients and influences 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. It is the second year in a row a Vij’s establishment has been nominated, having won the People’s Choice award in 2013 with Vij’s Railway Express.
Vikram has 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 dedication 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 2015, Vikram also donated 120 kilos of food to The
Longest Swim – Ben Lecomte’s swim from Tokyo to San Francisco to raise awareness about the state of the world’s oceans.
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 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, he 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, with My Shanti winning Silver, and Rangoli taking Bronze making it a Vij’s clean sweep. Drishti Magazine gave Vij’s the Innovation in Gastronomy Award in 2015. And Vikram received the Chevrolet Ingenuity Award for exceptional creativity and skill at RBC’s 2015 Top 25 Canadian Immigrant Awards.
In 2012, Vij’s Railway Express was launched onto the streets of Vancouver. It is a mobile food truck serving up top quality Indian curries to people in downtown Vancouver for weekday lunch and private catering events. The truck was based on Vikram’s travels by rail throughout India and in 2013 was awarded the inaugural People’s Choice Award from Air Canada’s enRoute Magazine, as Canada’s Best New Restaurant.
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.
As well as being available in his restaurants and in the frozen food aisles across Canada through Vij’s At Home, Vij’s foods are also available as part of his catering services at BC Place stadium and at Whistler/Blackcomb mountains. Vij’s hot foods are also sold as part of the From Our Chefs range at select Loblaw’s City Markets in B.C.
Vikram is the co-author of two cookbooks: Vij’s: Elegant & Inspired Indian Cuisine and Vij’s At Home: Relax, Honey. He is also featured in Peter and Chris Neal’s Goodness: Recipes & Stories, which celebrates “37 good food fighters from across Canada” and the 2015 release “The Butcher, The Baker, The Wine and Cheese Maker by the Sea”, a book celebrating local ingredients and chefs, by Jennifer Schell.
In June 2015, Vikram and Meeru received honorary Doctorates of Law from Vancouver’s Simon Fraser University.