A great business idea, no matter what the line of endeavour, can be scuttled by a lack of good business sense. And sadly, many ambitious restaurateurs fall by the wayside without achieving their goals.
Vikram Vij, one of the country’s most well-known celebrity chefs, understands that conundrum — how to translate a wealth of passion for food into a well thought out and practical business plan.
And it often comes down to getting the drive to get the smallest of details right.
It’s part of what Vij will be addressing as one of four top level chefs at the From the Boardroom to the Kitchen event Jan. 28 at the River Rock Show Theatre.
Growing up, Vij tempered his mother’s passion for food with a strong business sense from his father, who was a successful clothier in India.
“So, I knew how to wheel and deal, push the right buttons and find my own niche,” he said.
“My father was successful because he took the extra step to make that stitch that much better than someone else’s. It’s the same thing I do with cooking,” Vij said. “A lot of people cook Indian food. But how the food is presented, the ambience, the feeling that you get when someone holds your hand and says, ‘Trust me you’ll be fine, just taste my food.’ That grandmotherly love comes naturally and you share it with your guests. That’s what makes a difference.
“It’s not all just business. It’s very much also the passion and the love of the country and the cuisine.”
During the event at the River Rock, Vij said he also plans to get across the message that goals are achievable if you manage the drive for what you do with a real world sensibility.
“I want people to say, ‘Wow, we got great food, great entertainment and great knowledge,’” he said. “It will be like going to your grandmother’s house where you get great food, love, spoiled a little and even reprimanded a little if you’ve done something wrong.”
He explained that is a nurturing style of teaching which is effective and long-lasting.
Plus, the food is promised to be spectacular.
“I do believe, that if you want to rouse somebody you need to cook for them. If you need arousal, you need music, food, good wine and good company,” he said. “And that’s what we’re going to provide at the River Rock.”
Vij said he is particularly looking forward to the event because it brings him back to his Richmond roots. It’s where his parents still live today after they moved from India to join him back in 1994, just as he was starting his rise in the Vancouver restaurant scene.
“My parents believed in Richmond as a multicultural community,” Vij said. “I’ve always loved it there, too.
“Even when I worked at John Bishop’s restaurant I would always go to Richmond to just walk around because it was vibrant, it was new. It was a perfect combination of Asians, Indians, and non-Asians. It was a beautiful community to do business in. I loved it.”
As a young, up and coming chef with not a lot of cash to spare, he managed to find an affordable home in east Richmond for his parents to rent when they arrived.
“Richmond means so much to me. It’s almost like my little Singapore — it’s slightly colder,”he added.
Tickets for the From the Kitchen to the Boardroom event are $250 and include a unique dining experience put on by the four chefs, plus a question and answer session with Vij, Jackie Kai Ellis of Beaucoup Bakery, Quang Dang, executive chef at West and Brett Turner of Droski/Turner Hospitality Management. To order tickets, visit richmondchamber.ca or call 604-278-2822.