SaleBhai Indian Chef Chronicles: 10 Star Chefs Of West Bengal
The love for food in West Bengal is apparent in their unique cooking style, rare recipes, use of rich spices, and of course their vast variety of dishes. Bengali cuisine is one that is influenced by not one, but many cultures – Mughlai, Chinese, and Anglo Indian, for starters.
Being a firsthand witness to their glorious myriad of delicacies myself, I can quite certainly say that a visit to the state is mandatory for every Indian. To see such richness in preparation, such adeptness at making even the most difficult dishes, and being served with big smiles thereafter is something everyone must experience once. Honestly, you will want to keep going back for more.
West Bengal has not only blessed the Indian culinary map with mouth-watering delicacies but also with some outstanding chefs ready to paint the world gourmet map with the colours of the exquisite spices of the eastern state. Every Indian chef can take something or the other from the rich and varied Bengali cuisine.
Let us have a look at some of the most talented chefs from West Bengal - upcoming as well as established - to watch out for.
1- Sushanta Sengupta
A graduate in Hotel Management from IHM Kolkata, Sushanta Sengupta is the proud owner of the much sought-after eating joint in Kolkata – 6 Ballygunge Place. This fine eatery specialises in the most authentic Bengali cuisine – made using age-old recipes and unique spices specific to West Bengal. With his initial training at the The Taj Palace, Delhi – where he was exposed to advanced food production training – he then moved on to work with renowned restaurants across the country. He strives to come up with something new everyday so that he can always have a sweet surprise ready to served on the platter. His driving force is his happy customers who go back home with happy tummies and big smiles.
2. Subir Kumar Deb
The most frequented fine dining place in Kolkata – Oh! Calcutta – hides a gem of a chef creating magic in the kitchen with his sheer passion for food and abundant experience in the industry. Subir Kumar Deb’s constant endeavour is to innovate, or make even the most regular dishes stand out with his novel tweaks. His love for eating and experimenting with the state’s staple favourite – fish – is something fish lovers are grateful about. His fishy trials lead to exotic and finger-licking preparations that both loyal and first-time visitors swear by.
3. Sharad Dewan
When we talk of the chefs of West Bengal, we can not miss out Sharad Dewan – the Regional Director of Food Production at The Park, Kolkata for over a decade. He kicked off his career in the food industry right after he graduated from Institute of Hotel Management, New Delhi in 1993. There was no looking back for him thereafter. His exceptional talent at bringing out the authentic flavours and bringing to life even the most regular recipes made him a star soon enough. After having worked with popular restaurants across the country, he was driven by a strong desire to come up with something unique. That’s what he is still busy doing – blessing the food industry with delicacies never heard of, experimenting new ways to prepare old recipes, mixing the new with the old, the known with the unknown, to keep the excitement up and going.
4. Vijay Malhotra
When traditional recipes are balanced by modern techniques, what comes out are irresistible gourmet delights. This is what the famous executive chef at ITC Sonar Bangla firmly incorporates in all his lip-smacking creations. This is why you will see this exceptional chef roaming around in the by-lanes of New Market to lay his hands on authentic spices and other ingredients – which he feels cannot be replaced by those available in posh stores of the city. And this - according to him - makes all the difference. From a young age, he started experimenting in the kitchen and this childhood passion turned into a profession once he was inducted in the renowned ITC Hotels. His love for experimenting with seasonal produce to create something unique gives foodies a truly memorable gastronomic experience.
5. Vikramjit Roy
“I do not consider myself a ‘chef’ as yet. There are miles to go before I graduate to being one,” says the the Head Chef of Tian – Asian Cuisine Studio – at the ITC Maurya Hotel, New Delhi. His first job at Grand Hyatt, Delhi was as a trainee – and called for his attention in all the major departments. However, it was here that he realised that the look, taste, aroma, essence, and feel of good food is what thrills him the most. Working in restaurants across Southeast Asia taught him how to balance flavours from different lands perfectly in one dish. His imagination and flair for cooking has no bounds, and comes up with new delicacies on the regular. Check out his one-of-a-kind pudding recipe called Eat Your Table here.
6. Madhumita Mohanta
Madhumita Mohanta, with her exceptional culinary skills, has gone on to become a celebrity chef to take inspiration from. She believes hard work can take you places. And it certainly did take her places – from being a personal chef to famous personalities such as Michael Schumacher and Crown Prince of Bahrain – she has seen and done it all. Her bold entry in a predominantly male industry in the early 90’s – with hardly any female chef around – was what laid her path to success in bold and capital letters. With her inspiring and humungous contribution to the food industry, she treads along with a strong hold on her skills, experience, and in-and out-knowledge of the industry as an executive chef at Kolkata’s famous Great Eastern Hotel.
7. Gaggan Anand
Even while he played drums for local rock bands, he knew his calling lay elsewhere. After receiving his diploma from the Indian Institute of Hotel Management and Catering Technology at Trivandrum, he worked as a trainee with the Taj group of hotels. He eventually moved to Bangkok where something bigger and better was waiting for him. He currently owns and runs Gaggan – a fine dining restaurant with a focus on progressive Indian cuisine. He has much bigger plans for the future and we sincerely hope he keeps up the good work of bringing a happy and satisfied smile on peoples face with his out-of-the-box delicacies with a traditional touch.
8. Shrimoyee Chakraborty
Food blogger-turned-chef – Shrimoyee Chakraborty – is now rocking the streets of London with some sumptuous and authentic Bengali flavours. The 26-year-old is the first Bengali woman ever to own and even run a restaurant – as a chef – in London’s city area. The typical Bengali cuisine restaurant specialises in home-style cooking and excels in traditional Bengali delicacies. It attracts not only Bengalis in particular and Indians in general who crave the original taste of their motherland, but also locals who find it hard to resist the exotic and out-of-the-box preparations. With her mother as her inspiration and some age-old family recipes in her mind, Shrimoyee left her blossoming career in business and trading and set off to follow her passion without a care in the world. And the world is witness to what followed thereafter.
9. Sumalya Sarkar
Being a small town boy from Midnapore did not come in Sumalya Sarkar’s way of following his big culinary dreams. Working as an Executive Chef with the popular Taj Group of Hotels, he is pursuing his dream of taking the Indian cuisine to an all-new level. The sight of roomali roti being tossed into the air fascinated him as a child and he made it a practice to come and try to do the same exercise with a wet handkerchief. His cooking mantra is: ‘know your ingredients and how to use them in the right quantity’. The star chef still feels he has a long way to go and aspires to attain perfection in French cuisine – which as per him requires lots of perfection and deep knowledge. He loves cooking traditional, contemporary, and delicacies that are healthy too. He also nurtures a liking for mixing traditional recipes with modern techniques and vice versa to come up with something new and absolutely delicious each time he gets into the kitchen.
10. Vikas Milhoutra
Born and brought up in the small town of Durgapur, West Bengal, this 43-year-old is currently making the right use of pots and pans in the grand kitchen of Taj Bengal. He specialises in Oriental cuisine and loves trying new recipes everyday. His aggressively novel kind of cooking with the use of right and most authentic and unadulterated spices is what imparts taste to his preparations. The hands-on chef is a fan and promoter of regional cuisine and feels that it is the next best and big thing in the culinary world.
Hold on and watch these star Indian chefs continue making their way to people's stomachs and hearts in new ways. Food is an ever-blooming industry, after all who does not love well-made, authentic, and sometimes unique delicacies too. Bengal has given us mishti doi, rosogolla, sandesh, macher jhol, and some other irresistible sweets and snacks. And now here are some Bengali chefs who are contributing in their own way to the world cuisine with their eternal passion for cooking.
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