Viraj is at the helm of the Vermilion Chicago kitchen in executing the contemporary Indian-Latin cuisine pioneered by concept originator and owner Rohini Dey and Executive Chef Maneet Chauhan. Steeped in historical cross-influences and geographic commonalities, Vermilion’s intellectually provocative indian-latin fare overtly celebrates assertive flavors in melding these two seemingly disparate cuisines. This Chicago born women led restaurant has also expanded into midtown Manhattan.
Since inception, Vermilion has received several accolades, including 3 stars Chicago Tribune and“Best New Restaurant” Chicago Magazine, Travel & Leisure, Town&Country, USA Today, Bon Appetit, Wine Enthusiast. For it’s innovative concept and women led team, Vermilion has been lauded by Time, Financial Times, Gourmet, Oprah Magazine, Business Week, Fortune Small Business, Esquire, Sante, Chicago Tribune, Wall Street Journal and Shelter.
Viraj mentored under Iron Chef and Next Iron Chef contender Executive Chef Maneet Chauhan at Vermilion New York, before moving to Vermilion Chicago. A graduate of the Culinary Institute of America, Hyde Park, he interned with the best of India’s hotels in Mumbai, as well as premier hotels in Dubai. Before his career in the US, Viraj graduated in Hospitality from South-East Asia’s leading IHM Mumbai.
Viraj is native to Goa and has been influenced by the rich earthy coastal flavors of Goa and the Konkan coast of India. His exposure to the “maximum city” of Bombay and innate desire to break boundaries drives him to approach all cuisines with a fresh framework. His childhood obsession around food was fueled by his entire family’s passion for the same, in particular his mother – leading to a career and quest far from the conventional. When not consumed by food, Viraj is addicted to music, yoga, maintains his own blog, reads avidly and constantly seeks his next death-defying thrill through a myriad of adventure sports.