Virat Vij appointed as new director of Culinary Arts and Hospitality Management at LTCC

Sara Jackson

SOUTH LAKE TAHOE, Calif. – This year’s fall semester at Lake Tahoe Community College will welcome Virat Vij, to the new Director of Culinary Arts and Hospitality Management Program. Vij was hired for the position in March 2023.

Vij is a new resident to South Lake Tahoe and moved to the basin in April 2023. He was born and raised in New Delhi, India, but moved to the United States in 1999. In 2007, Vij moved to New Zealand to live closer to his in-laws. After having successfully moved his Indian family to New Zealand, they all moved to Australia, prompting Vij to move back to the United States to pursue his dreams, and to find a better school and education for his kids.

Virat Vij and students in the Culinary Arts program.
Provided / LTCC

The Culinary Arts Program at Lake Tahoe Community College is designed to provide students with knowledge of management skills, and culinary teamwork that are necessary to successfully enter the restaurant industry as a lead cook or obtain a management position. A variety of classes are offered including food safety and sanitation, the fundamentals of baking and pastry making, nutrition, international cuisine, hospitality management basics, and advanced culinary theories. Courses are in agreement with the American Culinary Federation Education Foundation (ACFEF) standards.

“After looking at various jobs, I applied for this position. I’m passionate about teaching, and I love culinary arts and all aspects of hospitality management,” Vij said. “My entire professional life has been within the field of cooking and hospitality. I was blown away when I noticed the compassionate and kind staff working at Lake Tahoe Community College during my interviews and discussions.”

Vij is eager to take on this position at LTCC, as well as provide further insight to college students to further communicate and relate with the international student population.

“My background with international student recruitment will also be helpful in expanding the various programs offered at Lake Tahoe Community College to local and international markets,” Vij said.

According to Vij, LTCC has a great team of visionary leaders such as President Jeff DeFranco, Vice President Ray Gamba and Vij’s immediate supervisor Brad Deeds, Dean of workforce development.

Vij’s responsibilities will include running and managing a culinary and hospitality management program, both online and in-person classes, keeping the exceptional facility at the college up to date from a health perspective. Keeping up with the changing markets and trends in culinary and hospitality, while keeping the classes exciting and relevant to today’s market. And also developing and promoting new programs in alignment with the Lake Tahoe Community College president’s vision.

Lake Tahoe Community College just started a housing project with nearly $40 million in state funding. Because of this, Vij has some ideas on expanding the Culinary and Hospitality Program, which includes incorporating pathways to get more apprenticeship options incorporated into the programs, job placement support for students who have gained skills in collaborative effort with the local hospitality venues such as casinos, resorts, restaurants, and local cafes, and working with registered chefs approved by ACFEF, so students can get the experience they need to get into the field. Vij is also looking forward to progressive growth efforts including the offering of boot camps to support quick courses in collaboration with California Conservation Corps. Last are pathways for short, advanced, and targeted courses like vegetarian and vegan cuisine and gluten-free cooking.

“I hope to create a clear pathway for both AA in Culinary Arts and Hospitality Management,” Vij said when asked what his hopes for the future of the program are. “An associate degree for transfer with stackable certificates in Culinary Arts. A registered apprenticeship to offer bachelor’s degree programs in Hospitality Business Management through Washington State University’s Global Campus at the Lisa Maloff University Center. Working with the Rising Scholar Program in collaboration with Shayne Reynolds to help support incarcerated students. And for Lake Tahoe Community College to be recognized on a state level and nationally, and even internationally, in terms of Culinary and Hospitality education.”

Vij credits his profession as the reason he has achieved so much in his life. He’s been able to help his family and those who were suffering. He found his life partner, raised his family, and created wealth – both spiritual and personal. He’s made life-long friendships, lived in various countries, learned hospitality, cooking, and marketing techniques from what he calls a unique perspective. He says his passion and business skills helped him succeed, along with the support of his team and staff and colleagues, and of course, his family who has always stood by him.

In closing, Vij states, “Some people are lucky to get a dream job, because if you do what you enjoy, it doesn’t feel like a job.”

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