This April, Our Chef of the Year is headed to Hawaii to share his passion for Indian cuisine

The Port of Vancouver might be busiest shipping timber and coal to other parts of the world, but when it comes to food it’s the chefs that are Vancouver’s main export. And we’re about to send one of our best, Vikram Vij, off to Hawaii for five days of culinary exploration and interaction in April. It all started when a cohort of chefs from the Westin Kā’anapali Ocean Resort Villas in Maui found themselves in Vancouver, sitting down at Vij’s and enjoying the food they were eating. That gave birth to a beautifully symbiotic relationship, one that will see Vancouver Magazine’s Chef of the Year set up shop in Maui between April 12 and 16 and bring his unique take on Indian cuisine to the pacific islands. “When you have a chef that comes to visit, you see the inner workings of their kitchen and learn new techniques that you might have never thought of,” says Chef Francois Milliet, who is the executive chef at the Westin Kā’anapali Ocean Resort Villas and was blown away by Vij’s cooking. Speaking of what made the meal stand out, he describes, “a savoury dish with Jackfruit, which I had never tasted like that before.” While learning about Vij’s cooking techniques is most important, Chef Francois, who moved to Hawaii from Switzerland, wants to learn about Chef Vij’s success in bringing his traditional cuisine to North America. “I want to learn if he had to adapt the recipes for his Vancouver diners, or if he tried to teach his diners about traditional Indian cuisine and how to eat it.” Aside from learning, the Hawaiian team also wants to return the favour and make sure Vij has an equally thrilling culinary experience. “I am very excited to show him that despite being in the middle of the Pacific, we are able to locally source up to 80 percent of the products he requested and that we use on a regular basis,” says Chef Francois. This is also the first time that Vij will be visiting Hawaii, and the team wants to leave him with a great impression. “We are hoping that he gets a feel for the friendly atmosphere and camaraderie in our community and that our open arms makes this feel like his second home.” For his part, Vij is just as excited about this collaboration as his Hawaiian counterparts. “I am really excited that places and organizations like Kā’anapali Beach Resorts have vision to bring in chef’s from outside to learn about and bring their customers other types of cuisine,” he says. Throughout the trip he will be cooking some meals of his own, enjoying some of theirs, and sharing everything he knows about the art of cooking. “I am talking to some chefs there about spices, my dishes, their origins, and my journey in Vancouver.” Although it seems he will be doing most of the teaching, Vij is still looking to do some learning himself. “It’s great to learn through an osmosis process of working together,” he says, “and I am looking to learn about Hawaiian cuisine and the products they use.”