By Bob Groeneveld
Special to the Langley Advance
Vikram Vij appears to have developed a taste for Langley – two tastes, in fact.
The award-winning chef and Dragon’s Den television personality worked with the local Trading Post Brewery to develop a special beer and with Tracycakes Bakery Cafe to create a new dessert cake.
Trading Post unveiled a new beer earlier this week.
Vikram’s Weissen is a German-style beer created by Trading Post brewmaster Tony Dewald, designed to pair well with the Indian spices and flavours prominent in Vij’s three restaurants, Vij’s and Rangoli in Vancouver and My Shanti in South Surrey.
The new beer received a “good reception” at its unveiling, said Trading Post general manager and co-founder Lance Verhoeff. “Vikram brought some food, and was working the crowd. A lot of people brought their cookbooks and he was signing them and giving big hugs. There was lots of good energy.”
Working with Vij to build the beer was a good experience, said Verhoeff. “He’s very personable, down to earth. He can relate to anyone. He’s easy to work with. He’s very fun and energetic.”
Verhooff added, “It was really cool to be able to collaborate with someone so well known in the hospitality food industry in BC and in Canada. So we were pretty honoured to do that.”
Vij met Verhoeff’s father at a charity event, Opportunity International, that Vikram was hosting at My Shanti about eight months ago.
When Vij learned about the brewery in Langley “and how we really focus on the beer and the food, because of our restaurant in Fort Langley,” said Verhoeff, “he really connected to that. He had always been wanting to do a beer in collaboration with a brewery.”
“I’ve been wanting to create something very special with a local brewery for some time now,” said Vij, “and along with the team at Trading Post, we’ve created a beer that is a great partner to any dish, but especially to a fantastic curry.”
Trading Post was “the right fit, with core values and with culture, and also for size and ability to create the beer,” said Verhoeff, and the proximity to My Shanti made it “a bit of a perfect fit.”
Vikram’s Weissen beer is a German-style beer modelled after a Storm Brewing made by a friend of Dewald’s in the 1990s, Lightning Wit, but “with a bit of our own twist on it” to meet Vij’s needs, said Verhoeff.
“[Weissen] is a wheat beer with orange and coriander flavours to it,” he said. “A really easy-drinking five per cent beer.”
It will be available in all of Vikram’s restaurants, as well as at the Trading Post Brewery and at the brewery’s Tap House Eatery in Fort Langley. It also will be available in some local liquor stores, “Mainly in Langley and Vancouver as well,” said Verhoeff, who attended Trinity Western University about a decade ago and now calls Langley his home.
Dewald lives on a farm in Aldergrove.
“We try to hire as many local people as possible,” said Verhoeff.
Trading Post opened at #107 20120 64th Ave. in February 2016, and the Eatery’s opening at 9143 Glover Rd. in Fort Langley that May.
While Trading Post was fashioning a special beer with Vij’s input, Tracycakes was heading in a more solid direction.
The bakery cafe’s founder, Tracy Dueck, partnered with the celebrity chef to deliver a custom Tracycakes’ dessert available exclusively at My Shanti.
After a chance meeting at a business event in Langley, Dueck pitched Vij on a South Asian inspired dessert that would blend Tracycakes’ signature decadent cakes with the flavours of India for a unique dessert creation.
That creation became a custom cake, The Sultan’s Jewel, an ultra-moist chocolate cake infused with a silky coconut and cardamon infused custard, and crowned with a rich dark chocolate cinnamon ganache and an exotically-spiced almond-cocoa masala crumble.
“We’re pleased to add Tracycakes’ delicious new cake to our dessert menu,” said Vij. “Tracy has done a wonderful job of blending traditional Indian flavours into a rich chocolate dessert for a tempting finale to My Shanti’s eclectic Indian fare.”
For Dueck, the chance to collaborate with Vij was a dream come true.
“As a successful restaurateur, author and TV personality, he is a true Canadian culinary icon,” she said, “so to be able to develop a cake especially for one of his restaurants is an incredible honour.”
Vij’s culinary expertise as a restaurateur is globally recognized, and his is the recipient of numerous awards.
He also has a successful line of frozen packaged Indian meals, Vij’s At Home, available at grocery retailers across Canada.
Vij was a guest judge on Top Chef Canada three years in a row and was also a judge on Chopped Canada, Recipe to Riches, and Dragon’s Den.
Making a connection with someone with as high a profile as Vij provides a “huge” boost, added Verhoeff.
“For us to get together in collaboration with someone like that is big for our brand,” he said, “but also it’s special to be able to collaborate with someone that is passionate about local ingredients as we are, and our local community.
“For us it was a lot about the core values of each business matching together in terms of focusing on our local community, as much he is in South Surrey and we’re really close to that really fits. We were really excited when the opportunity came around.”