Happy Thursday great foodie friends.
I wanted to share my experience at an event I was l honored to be invited to. #VikramsTour
The very second that you meet Vikram you are captured by his stories, words and demeanor. Vikram is the true balance of being genuinely humble but so charismatic and colorful at the same time.
You quickly realize that this magnate is true example of hard work and true proof that you should never look at a mountain as too high to climb.
In 1994 Vikram and team under his wife and fellow chef Meeru Dhalwala opened their first restaurant in Vancouver- Vij’s – a 14 seat flavor and aroma wonder that hit the Vancouver culinary scene with truly traditional Indian cuisine. You can never equate Vikram’s style of cooking as main stream or faddy but rather a true reflection of the unique flavors of his homeland. Flavors and recipes simply from his grandparents, parents and family friends kitchens and true to the ancient heritage and routes of genuine and regional flavors.
Vikram started our tour of his Vij’s at Home take home curries in Langley with several food writers, media and the film crew of Dragons Den. If you haven’t heard yet Vikram will be one of the two new Dragons!
Vikram definitely captures the attention of the group while passionately describing his first steps on the property in 2007 and how important it was to maintain the natural lands he was building on by minimizing the impact of the build out. Vikram also spent countless hours looking at different options to build
back into this new building and opted for a “green” roof and investing in the structural engineering to accommodate that. If you see the building from the air, it would almost look like green space!
We now started our education of Vikram’s at Home and the aromas gently greet you upon entering the building.
One issue that Vikram stayed focused on like a laser was how to preserve the unique and beautiful flavors through the large batching, processing and packaging process. He wants to ensure that when we open the package at home that your kitchen would fill with the tastes aromas and flavors that were intended to show!
Pasteurizing is a typical and lower cost option to preserve the food but can’t ensure that the product would taste the way Vikram wanted it be. Vikram looked at another option that worked just right! Blast freezer
By taking the product from 80 degrees to 4, then minus 32 within approx 35 minutes it preserves the unique flavors and quality that Vikram strives for.
All that said what you quickly notice is that even though you are in a food factory and expect complete automation you will see that the important part of Vikram’s secret weapon is to continue to infuse the passion and love into each and every package through many hand made processes.
The spices are still roasted traditionally and manually every week, and many of the ingredients are still hand cut.
After a great education and reassuring confirmation that this truly respected chef that believes in the same exact core values that I have always believed and found on my culinary journey – “Get in the kitchen and cook, but do it with smiles in your heart, love, soul and passion and it will surely show in your food” Food doesn’t define us necessarily but it does connect us to family, friends and new friends. Even in a “commercial” application of Vikram’s food, this key ingredient is not overlooked.
The tour wrapped up in Chef Vikram’s office and some more intriguing stories of his days gone past.
Now off to My Shanti, Vikram’s new eatery in South Surrey. Being that I live in the area I was thrilled to see this flavour train arrive and bring a new twist to the restaurant scene in South Surrey.
From the moment you turn the corner to look for My Shanti, it’s right front an centre and not easy to miss! In True Vikram Vij style the outside of the restaurant is unique and not like any other in the area.
It really is a preview to the wonderment that the diner is about to experience once inside.
Attention to every detail of what Vikram’s wants you to experience is seen everywhere. A successful entrepreneur knows that in these complicated times you don’t win the battle of patrons with a good this or that, but rather you do win when you create an
, a whole feeling from start to finish to relax yet entertain you.
Vikram had this hand woven and hand painted mural commissioned in India specifically for My Shanti
The Tree Of Life
is made from one piece and fills nearly the whole wall that you see once you enter the dining room!
The dining room is comfortable and welcoming leaving you relaxed and ready to experience a culinary flavour ride from Vikram’s kitchen.
Vikram has a unique awareness of balance and humility always recognizing those who are on his culinary journey of life always recognizing that he couldn’t do it or be successful without his awesome team.
The food at My Shanti is unique to traditional Indian fare, not like the North American perception of Westernized Indian dishes. The quality of ingredients is evident and the care in preparing the dishes is present in the depth of flavours, textures and unique presentation.
The dishes we tried were all unique and truly had depth in flavours to set you up thinking what is next!? To truly enjoy Vikram’s new concept restaurant you must go for a great dinner where you will be taken care of his staff who is there to help guide you through the beautiful dishes that Vikarm and his culinary team have created. The attention to detail is evident and furthermore you are likely to have the smiling face of Chef Vikram or Bena drop by your table to ensure that they see you are enjoying the experience. You are not going solely to eat but rather to have a culinary experience- sight, smells, tastes and all around experience.
Take a look at the wonderful bar that Vikram has created that has chosen to serve real drinks from days gone past and new creations all made by hand with fresh ingredients and in the style of “Speak Easy” concoctions rather than the premixed versions you so often find in many other spots.
Do you recall that I mentioned Dragons Den ?
Well in case you hadn’t heard Vikram Vij is one of the new Dragons and will surely be as entertaining with his passion and colourful demeanour in the den as he is in the kitchen.
We are thrilled to have Vikram’s My Shanti in South Surrey and look forward to many great dinners to come.
Remember that just like all of Vikram’s retsuarants- they don’t take reservations, it is first come first serve and true to Vikram’s belief that we all are created equal.