Vikram Vij: Food from the Heart, Food for the Soul
Upon entering My Shanti restaurant, you are taken miles away, greeted by gorgeous gemstone tones, candlelight and the intoxicating aroma of spices in the air. With the goal of creating a truly authentic feel, Vikram Vij has succeeded in bringing the richness of Indian culture to the Canadian market, starting a love affair between Canadians and the beautiful country he hails from.
My Shanti, which translates to “my peace,” was given its name because even on the craziest of days, cooking calms Vij and brings him peace. A lot of loving energy goes into his dishes, creating food that is not only flavourful and delicious but also good for the soul.
Like the atmosphere of his restaurants, Vij brings his peaceful and kind energy with him everywhere he goes. What does he want the world to know about him? “I just love people!” he exclaims. “I truly love everyone.” Easily able to make those around him feel comfortable, he loves to move from table to table at his restaurant, visiting his guests to discover what inspires them. Greeting everyone he meets with “Namaste,” Sanskrit for “I bow to the divine in you,” Vij is a role model for acceptance and kindness.
A proud Indian, Vij left his home country with a dream to be the best unappointed ambassador of Indian cuisine, showing that it is as complex as any other cuisine in the world. Describing life in Canada as a beautiful mosaic of diversity where he could be his truest self, Vij felt that it was the perfect place to bring his dream to reality. He adds, “The beautiful fabric of who we are only ads to this amazing country.”
The lights of his life, Vij’s two daughters, were fortunate to grow up in a home where they were taught that they could be anything. Sharing the tattoo on his lower arm—a beautiful silhouette of his daughters as children, running—he jokes, “They finally managed to get under my skin.” Vij talks about the importance of his daughters growing up to be proud of who they are and their cultural heritage; it’s important for them to know that they are women of power and can achieve great things. His advice for them is to be unapologetically who they are: “Don’t worry about the norms and fitting in, be the free bird.”
Vij notes that he moved from the largest democracy in the world to the best democracy in the world. He believes Canada is the perfect environment for immigrants to build something beautiful. With its freedom and acceptance of many cultures, Vij believes Canada will not only grow stronger economically but also as a world leader for tolerance and peace.
Vij looks back fondly on his experience with Dragons’ Den, which was a wonderful place for him to show that Indo-Canadian entrepreneurs are alive and well in Canada. Vij wanted to inspire every young chef, immigrant, and young Canadian, showing them that if they work hard and stay focused, they, too, can be successful. A believer in spreading the entrepreneurial spirit, Vij proclaims, “Everyone should be an entrepreneur!” His goal on Dragons Den was always to make sure that those presenting their products would leave with something; if he could not invest, Vij always tried to give advice on the best steps to take to succeed in their businesses.
An inspiration and role model to all who dream big and wish to create, Vij says, “Creativity is in all of us, whether you are a shy person or a loud person; we all just need to nurture it, and it will grow.” Vikram Vij: an inspiring, heartfelt and authentic pride of Canada.
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