Vikram, much like his food, is a charismatic and vibrant soul with a delightful personality that fills any room, or in this case tent, he enters. For those of you who don’t know Vikram Vij just Google his name and wait for a slew of information to pop up on his many culinary achievements. From celebrity chef to acclaimed restaurateur, Vikram Vij is a culinary giant who is at the top of the game when it comes to Indian cuisine. His decision to come and cook at RAW: Almond this year seemed perplexing to some, however in the end it made perfect sense. He is an innovator, a tastemaker and a man who takes chances, which is exactly the spirit that RAW: Almond thrives on. When asked why he simply replied, “why not? I’ve never cooked on a river before!”

vikram4vikram vij at raw:almond. photographed by brett howe

His dinner was a feast for the ears, eyes, mouth and heart. With his spices splayed out like a painters palette, he invited everyone to stand at the window while he took his guests through the process of preparing each curry he was serving that evening. As he told stories of his restaurant, of India and of his many adventures he encouraged guests to ask questions, smell the food, answer trivia and most of all laugh and enjoy themselves. It was like this was his house and these were his close friends. No boundaries, no formalities, just excitement, laughter and anticipation for the mouthwatering food that was to come. Mouthwatering turned out to be an understatement. I would describe Vikram’s curry’s more along the lines of life changing; a revelation of how true harmony between spice, richness, flavour, and texture can honestly produce feelings that I have never had before after eating food. Maybe it was the perfectly cooked lamb pop, or chicken, or prawn paired with the unbelievably balanced curry made for that dish. Or maybe it was the setting and being able rip naan bread with him while eating side by side with our hands from a pan while sipping a glass of wine. Either way it was some of the best damn food I have ever tasted in my entire life and truly an unforgettable experience.

vikram vij at raw:almond. photographed by brett howevikram vij at raw:almond. photographed by brett howevikram vij at raw:almond. photographed by brett howevikram vij at raw:almond. photographed by brett howevikram vij at raw:almond. photographed by brett howe

His graciousness, his appreciation, his kind words and his infectious personality all made working with Vikram an absolutely delightful adventure. A big thanks you to him and to Mandel of course for making all of this happen, without him none of this would even be possible. If you are ever in Vancouver make sure to check out one of Vikram’s restaurants and if you have the pleasure of meeting him make sure to savour every moment, it will be nothing short of spectacular. Much Love from the Charcoal Collaborative and always remember to stay hungry my friends.

Photographer- Brett Howe

Layout- Sarah Gurevich

Words- Daniel Gurevich