Vij in Victoria to Launch New Frozen Food Line

images: left, samples of Vij's Curried Chickpeas, right, Vikram Vij at the London Chef. credit: Rebecca Baugniet

Earlier this week, Canadian cooking icon Vikram Vij made a stop in Victoria as part of a tour to launch his new line of frozen foods. At a media launch held at the London Chef, Vij explained his deep respect for homestyle Indian cooking, and how it inspires him to “add corners” in his restaurant kitchens, such as hand sifting, roasting and grinding spices. Vij compares his new packaged meals to pasta, which you boil in a pot  while you open your wine and heat up some naan. When the curries are ready, you make them your own by adding fresh cilantro, yogurt or chilies.  Guests were visibly impressed by  the samples on offer, and London Chef owner Dan Hayes echoed everyone’s thoughts when he stated “I can’t believe something that tastes this good came out of a bag.” Asked about the famous “no reservations” policy at Vij’s, the chef explained that the primary reason for it is because he wanted everybody to be equal in his restaurant – a place where no one is going to get bumped for VIPs. He also added how the lounge can a good place to start a meal…

If I come to your house and you take me straight to the dining table, I’d be offended. Sweetheart, let’s go to the lounge and get hammered!

EAT: I hear you’re just back from Toronto. Is your new line of frozen foods now available coast to coast?


Vij: Yes – it has gone ‘coast to coast’! We have products available in shops in Montreal, Toronto, Calgary, Edmonton, Jasper and Whitehorse, and are in the process of securing a distributor for Sobeys and Loblaws.


EAT: You must be very excited.


Vij: Excitement, no – that’s not the right word. You can never take it for granted – the market is huge. Like wow- huge. So overwhelming, yes.


EAT: Is it a challenge to ensure the same quality when you’re serving such a large market?


Vij: We’ve worked really hard over the past four months, ensuring the quality of the bags and that the flavours are still cooked with as much passion and love behind the food. So I’m not worried about the quality, because I know the quality to be good. I eat it myself.


EAT: What are your favourites?


Vij: I think the Punjabi Dahl is one of my favourites.


EAT: Will the frozen menu items change with the seasons as your restaurant menu does?


Vij: No, it takes a lot to change a product. You can’t just print up ten bags and then let it go – so right now we’re just going to concentrate on the bags that are selling well. A restaurant changes seasonally, but for a factory it’s a yearlong process. Down the road, yes.


EAT: How does living in British Columbia inspire your cooking?


Vij: We have the best produce available to us that comes from the Fraser Valley – it produces beautiful tomatoes, onions, ginger, garlic… our meats are very good quality as well, and all sustainable. I love living in British Columbia as it provides me with the best ingredients possible.


EAT: Any chance of you opening up a restaurant in Victoria?


Vij: I don’t have any plans so far. Down the road – maybe – but not right now.


EAT: It’s been a busy year, with the cookbook launch and now the line of packaged meals. What’s next?


Vij: Well, we’re looking at opening a food truck in Vancouver, moving Vij’s from where it is to a new location on Cambie St. and coming up with a new concept for where Vij’s is now.


EAT: Never a dull moment!


Vij: I thrive under stress, there’s no question about that!


EAT: Thank you for taking the time to chat with us and all the best for your new ventures!


Vij: My pleasure.


To find out where you can buy Vij’s frozen foods, click here


Written By:

Rebecca Baugniet is a freelance food writer and editor living on Canada’s West Coast with her husband and their four children. The author of three published cookbooks, Rebecca has also written for EAT Magazine and for Montréal ...

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