Vancouver-based celebrity chef Vikram Vij, a vocal Liberal supporter, was flown to India on the government’s dime to cook for a group of top diplomats, CTV News has learned.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has been travelling across India with his family in hopes of boosting business ties with the South Asian nation.
The government flew Vij to India to help prepare Indian cuisine for a reception at the residence of the Canadian High Commissioner on Thursday.
Vij’s flight and hotel were paid for by taxpayers’ dollars, CTV News has learned.
In a statement to CTV News, a government spokesperson confirmed that Vij was invited to the reception and that his “out-of-pocket expenses” are being covered.
“Where appropriate, it is accepted practice for Canadian missions to invite chefs from Canada to showcase Canadian food products and cuisine. Vikram Vij is a prominent Indo-Canadian whose Vancouver restaurants are world-renowned for melding Canadian ingredients and the traditions of Indian cuisine,” the spokesperson said in a statement.
“Mr. Vij generously offered a week of his time, away from his Canadian business, to assist with the menu and food preparation for the Canada Reception. (Global Affairs Canada) is undertaking to cover his out-of-pocket expenses (eg. airfare and accommodation). Mr Vij's involvement will contribute to make the event a memorable celebration of the Canada-India friendship.”
Vij publically threw his support behind Trudeau ahead of the 2015 federal election. He even helped fire up a crowd in Vancouver during one of Trudeau’s campaign rallies.
In March 2015, Trudeau tweeted a photograph after meeting the acclaimed chef.
The celebrity chef started his culinary empire with the acclaimed restaurant Vij’s, opened in Vancouver in 1994.