Vikram Vij has shared Indian recipes and cooking techniques with countless people over the years through his cookbooks and cooking classes. Next up, the celebrity chef is lending his name – and teaching talents – to UBC.
“I’d love to see the creation of a course geared towards multicultural cuisines. I believe when you eat food from all over the world, you become more tolerant towards other human beings,” said Vij who generously donated $250,000 towards the extensive makeover of a culinary lab originally built in 1982.
The facility, now called Vij’s Kitchen, is located in our Food, Nutrition and Health Building and is used by a wide variety of students from across the university and from the general community for cooking classes and food service training, many of these opportunities being made available through UBC Continuing Studies. The space consists of six kitchen stations and a demonstration kitchen, including audiovisual capability. High tech upgrades mean students have video access to classes taught by professional chefs, including Vij himself.
“As far as I know, Vij’s Kitchen is the only group cooking facility on campus that can be used for communal cooking and for education around food, food safety and food preparation,” added Gwen Chapman, Associate Dean, Academic, and Director of the Food, Nutrition and Health program. “We’re training future dietitians and home ec teachers as well as the people in our community how to cook in innovative and healthy ways and how to do that in the context of our everyday lives.”
Vij said his involvement with the culinary lab underscores a long-time connection to UBC. For instance, his wife, Meeru Dhalwala, helped to found the annual Joy of Feeding celebration of ethnic home cooking which takes place in June at the UBC Farm.
“And for years, I’ve been sourcing organic produce and herbs from the UBC Farm for my restaurants. I also support UBC’s mandate to educate global citizens and to provide leadership for sustainable, urban farming.”