The sold out October 2012 edition of CreativeMornings/Vancouver welcomed renowned chef, sommelier, restauranteur & author Vikram Vij as our speaker. We were proud to partner with Eventbrite to produce the breakfast event with the support of ongoing co-hosts W2 Media Café & GDC/BC.
Vikram Vij is from India, but studied the culinary arts abroad, eventually moving to Canada in the late 80’s. In 1994 he opened a humble little Indian restaurant on Broadway he called Vij’s. I lived in the neighbourhood back then and it was OK. Not bad. It was when his wife arrived a year later and together they started creatively collaborating on the menu, moved into the location on 11th & Granville and everything changed. Next came Rangoli, retail pre-packaged curries, the books, TV appearances.
To say that Vikram is among Vancouver’s gastronomic royalty is an understatement. Various magazines and travel guides have repeatedly judged Vij’s to be the top restaurant in Canada, and NYTimes food critic Mark Bittman (and others) have called Vij’s one of the best Indian restaurants in the world. How does he do it? Among other things, he is driven by passion and creativity. A passion for not cutting corners or compromising, and the creative bravery of an artist, willing to try anything—even if there’s a risk others will judge or reject him. He’s not driven by ego or fame, but a desire to make people happy by creating the best quality, most authentic mix of traditional Indian cuisines using sustainable, local & seasonal ingredients and serving it in a room as comfortable as your own living room.
Vikram shared with the sold out crowd his perception of creativity and the role it has played in his kitchen, his food, and his life. Some notable quotes from Vikram's talk:
"Ghandi once said that we are all equal. That is exactly how I chose to live my life"
"It is truly a humbling experience to fall down, accept it, get back up, and rebuild our lives"
"every day when a customer walked in, it was most important to me that I would make the customer feel welcome and at home"
"My wife's tenacity, hard work, and partnership is a fundamental reason that Vij's is where it is today."
"We run our kitchens and our company with very little hierarchy. All our employees have the opportunity to share their ideas."
"Good food should not only be served with passion and love, but humility."
"Whether you take a garam masala from Northern India or a spice from Southern, Indian food stands out because of its democracy."
"Indian food is more than average take out. It can be elevated and explored into high cuisine."
"Live your passion and truly believe that your friends and creative abilities support you."
"Inside of each of us is the burning desire to strive to be the best we can and create something that leaves a lasting legacy."
"Cooking is like art. You have spices and your pot is your canvas, but you must understand the fundamentals of cooking to create."
"I go to India every year to learn how to cook. Indian women don't have the accolades but are amazing chefs. I go there as a student."
"The path of creating food awareness is what is most important to me."
"It's not about the money you're making. It's about the passion and the love you are creating with."
"The restaurant is who I am as a human being. I love where we live, and bridging the gap between the cultures is what Vij's is about."
"Restaurants are like human beings. They need a lot of attention."
"I am a control freak. I need to keep the control and focus in my city."
The Vancouver chapter of CreativeMornings is run by Mark Busse (@MarkBusse) and his dedicated team of volunteers. Thanks to Ryan Mah (@Unisonpress), Mahyar Saeedi (@MahyarSaeedi), Jake Hermiston and Matthew Shettler for video production.
NOTE: CreativeMornings/Vancouver is entirely produced by unpaid volunteers, including the video production which is done on borrowed equipment which have recently suffered some technical issues and we need your help to purchase a new camera and laptop: http://tinyurl.com/9lqz5h5
CreativeMornings is a monthly breakfast lecture series for creative types. Each event is free of charge, and includes a 20 minute talk, plus coffee! (creativemornings.com)