Anisha Aditya leads editorial initiatives at BW Legal, which is the legal publication of BW Businessworld. She is a Management Consultant with specialisation in International Business Strategies, assessment of bilateral and multilateral trade agreements between countries, the impact of preferential access on industries, and global value chains for private companies and governments. She has also assisted in framing state export strategies.More From The Author >>
26 Year Old Shrimoyee Chakravorty Brings the Flavours of Calcutta Street to London
26 year old Shrimoyee Chakravorty, was the first from her time to take the flavours of Kolkata to London. Embarking on the Bengali cuisine, she started with her food startup Calcutta Street in March 2015.
Inspirations become the cause of action for entrepreneurs and artists alike, which might be tasting mozzarella from New York City or perhaps simply dining with the sweet indulgences of our home towns.
26 year old Shrimoyee Chakravorty, was the first from her time to take the flavours of Kolkata to London. Embarking on the Bengali cuisine, she started with her food startup Calcutta Street in March 2015. She had announced the launch of Popup Restaurants in the national daily The Independent UK. In the aftermath of which, the startup had it’s the first popup on 7 March 2015 in a pub at London's Camden Market.
From marketing in the most obscure parts of London to visiting Brighton for photo shoots and prawn shopping, from making the local paturis to blending cocktails with mango, Srimoyee left no stone unturned to walk her talk. The Calcuttan wanted Britain to get a taste of the untapped food market of her hometown Calcutta.
"I sourced all the spices from India. My uncle was on a work visit and he got me most of what I needed. The rest I easily found in London besides the phuchkas, for which I had to go to a Gujarati store in Tooting on the outskirts," Shrimoyee said.
Back in her childhood years, she preferred watching Nigella Lawson's shows over cartoon. She mentions the exquisite culinary skills of her mother has been an immense upbeat in her career. During her time at the university, her residence became a supper club for all the hungry students. Later, she was working for an Economic think tank thinking about international policy during the day and making menu and recipe development and food by the night.
When she set up base in London after finishing her master's in Global Business Analysis at the Manchester Business School, Shrimoyee was shocked to find "so-called Bengali curry houses" with items such as Chicken Madras and Chicken Vindaloo on the menu. "That was not what I had grown up eating in Calcutta. And that's when I decided to offer real Calcutta food to Londoners," recounted the restaurateur.
Shrimoyee immediately started getting offers from different restaurants in London, including the popular Bonnie Gull, to do more pop-ups.
After one year of popups at several locations, Calcutta Street found its home at 118 Bricklane, opposite Old Truman Brewery, which is literally stone throw away from London's financial district, especially Liverpool Street and the trendy Shoreditch and Hoxton. Shrimoyee believes Pop-ups gave her an opportunity to showcase her work to the public and test waters before making it permanent at Bricklane.
Shrimoyee has thought it all out – the lights, the décor, the costume, the set from Satyajit’s Ray’s Charulata, the doors and chandeliers and maybe even an armchair. She aims to merge the contemporary imageries of London with the heritage of her hometown.
Paul Bloomfield, resident chef of Asia House and Edward Francis, Restaurant consultant has been a constant support in terms of logistics. She even received approvals from Lord Billimoria, MD of Cobra Beer, who was extremely kind enough to become her alcohol partner without even tasting her food!
Calcutta Street restaurant has started with investments from 5 investors as of now, including Shrimoyee herself, bringing old Kolkata living room charm into one of London's most sought after location. From lamb biryanis to dab chingri to paturi and mishti doi, the menu currently includes 21 Bengali main dishes.
The restaurateur also inclines to support woman chefs from the food industry as she says, “As you may know there are very few women chefs in the world, let alone in Britain. So to motivate, I also intend to give more and more opportunities to women (not necessarily Indian) to join me in the kitchen of Calcutta Street, as sue chefs. It is my small contribution to those who spend their lives at the back of the house. This is our turn to come in the front and prove our potentials as professional cooks.”
On being asked about how she runs the show when the curtains are down, she says it has not been an easy journey. There has days when the young chef had to search for the perfect ingredients in the most obscure parts of London and carry the heavy bags for her upcoming popup to cook for twelve hours at a stretch. But when it came to choose between, security and money and her love for building Calcutta Street, she decided to choose the latter.
Disclaimer: The views expressed in the article above are those of the authors' and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of this publishing house
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