Nine Candid Minutes With Star Chef & Restaurateur Vikram Vij
Vikram Vij is a man requiring little in the way of introduction, but here goes…
The owner of Vij’s and Rangoli (with another on the way) is inarguably one of the most celebrated (and coolest) chefs in North America. He is the co-author (with his amazing wife Meeru) of two superlative cookbooks, a board member and past president of the Chefs Table Society of BC, and an all-around ambassador of everything that is fine and good about this excellent city of ours. Dare I say Knighthood?
Dear Elizabeth II…get on it.
Three things about the Cambie & 14th area that makes you want to live there? I can walk to my restaurant, walk downtown to the Canucks games, and it’s a cheap taxi ride so I do not have to drink and drive. I live on Cambie and 14th Ave.
The thing that you eat that is bad for you that you will never stop eating? I eat cheap Indian snacks in the car while driving to Surrey.
Default drink of choice? Johnny Walker’s “Blue Label” Whiskey.
Drink you’ll never have again? As long as it has alcohol, I shall drink it.
Fashion turn-off? Indian clothes with running shoes.
Fashion turn-on? Cleavage.
The Vancouverite that you admire most? I do not admire ONE person only, but rather a lot of people for small and big accomplishments.
What is your favourite local patio? I do not get time to go on patios, but I think “C” has a great one.
What trend have you followed that you now regret? I set trends, not follow them.
Your major character flaw? Arrogance.
The dumbest thing that you’ve ever done to your hair? Trying to grow it out so that I could have a ponytail.
What are the three things you’d like to change about Vancouver? A little more sunshine, affordable penthouses for sale, lounges that serve gin and tonic and show cricket on big screens.
Is there a local bartender who could sell you anything? David from West [check it out].
Your go to, no-frills place for dinner? Campagnolo on Main Street [check it out].
If you could board a plane this afternoon, where would it be taking you? To India!
The three books that you read that made an impact on you in your formative years? Rohinton Mistry’s A Fine Balance, Vikram Seth’s A Suitable Boy and Nelson Mandela’s Long Walk To Freedom.
Who’s personal style do you covet? No one person, just anybody who is thin and lanky, which is something I never will be.
Where was the last place you traveled to for work or pleasure? My bed.
What makes you the most nervous? My dad behind the wheel.
What is your biggest phobia? Running out of alcohol in my house.
Where did you go to school? In Delhi and Bombay.
What did you major in as an undergraduate? Chemistry in Bombay.
The cliche that you overuse? I always say “Can I tell you honestly?”
Shoe of choice? Indian chappals. [see]
The different career path that you could have gone on? Bollywood Actor.
Your ancestry? Indian, from the Punjab.
Under what circumstances would you join the army? If my country asked, I would go.
Your most regrettable purchase ever? I have wasted a lot of money but have no regrets.
The character flaw in others that you can’t abide? Uneducated opinions.
How do you know when you can’t trust someone? When someone is blowing smoke up my ass.
What was the luckiest moment in your life? Nov 12th, 1996 and 23 April, 1999 (my kids’ birthdays).
What was the unluckiest moment in your life? Never had one and never will.
What are you the most proud of? Sharing my culture and cuisine through my food.
What are you the least proud of? My plump belly.
What frustrates you the most about your work? People asking for butter chicken on my menu.
The relatively normal piece of clothing that you believe you’d look the most ridiculous in? Skinny jeans.
The talent that you wish you possessed? Singing.
What are you listening to as you answer these questions? Bollywood music.
What musical instrument you secretly long to play? Guitar.
What sport did you give up and why? Cricket, because I moved to Austria and you cannot play cricket in the snow.
What is the game that you’re best at? Manipulation.
What is the one animal that scares you the most? Human beings.
Have you ever fired a gun? If so, what were the circumstances? It was a pellet gun. I was kid and shot a boy because he did not give me the football. He was not seriously hurt.
Scariest situation you’ve ever been in? In an avalanche near Revelstoke.
The thing of no monetary value that you own and will keep dearly until you die? My love of women.
The wildest place you’ve ever been to? Between the booms.
Your first memory? My grandfather smoking a cigarette.
The first album that made you love music? Too many to count.
The one place that you have the least interest in ever visiting? Las Vegas.
The first three things that you do every morning? Eat raw garlic, drink coffee and weigh myself.