Vijay Shastri is the product of a family of culinarians. The Shastris have been serving cuisine that spans the globe from German to Indian and back again since 1985, a time when the Asheville restaurant scene offered little in the way of invention. Today, the culinary landscape has definitely grown in leaps and bounds. The Shastris are still at the top of the restaurant game with the Flying Frog, a restaurant where escargot rests comfortably shoulder to shoulder with samosas on the menu. Shastri, executive chef, certified sommelier and father took recently took time out from his busy schedule to answer some questions for Bold Life.
What is your idea of perfect happiness?I have the most incredible family and friends, a successful restaurant and bar, and am surrounded with all the best food and wine a person could ask for…perfect happiness!
What is your greatest fear? Age…I have way too many things I want to do and I don’t know how I will squeeze them all into this short life we are given.
What is your inspiration? My daughter Madeleine and the positive, vibrant personalities I am fortunate to be surrounded by.
Which person, alive or dead, do you most admire? My grandfather.
What is your current state of mind? Very positive.
What is the quality you most like in a person? I enjoy nothing more than being around people who are honest and true to themselves.
Which talent would you most like to have? Music — singing, playing instruments, the things that you don’t have much time for as a restauranteur.
Which habit would you most like to be rid of? I have a really hard time saying no to people.
What do you consider your greatest achievement? I am doing what I love…successfully!
What would you choose to be if you were to be reincarnated? I enjoy being on the top of the food chain…human.
What is your biggest vice? Great Bordeaux.
What would you cook for the President? I prefer the challenge of an impromptu menu.
Who would you most like to have dinner with? Any educated foodie and wine geek.
What is your favorite culinary tool? My French knife.
What is your idea of hell on earth? Franchise restaurants with tasteless, poor quality products.
What quality do you most value in your friends? Honesty and loyalty.
Who is your favorite chef? My mother.
Who is your favorite writer? Salman Rushdie.
Who are your heroes in real life? My parents.
What is it that you most dislike? Arrogant chefs.
What food could you not live without? Grapes! They are responsible for the wine I could not live without.
What music could you not live without? Old school punk rock.
How would you like to die? With more great wine than everybody else.
How would you like to live? Honest and happy.
What is your motto? Educate when you can and don’t ever stop learning.