Dear All,

Thank you. I don’t remember any time, when I have met you or any staff from your restaurant/outlet, that I haven’t said Thank you. That’s the least I can  after a great experience. This is a special Thank You.

We create special memories over food. The meal at a restaurant, with childhood friends and a paltry pocket money. The memory of checking the price on the right hand side and always calculating, whether we have enough funds to settle the bill. The confident ordering for parents on your first treat with the first salary. The limitless splurge of money in a restaurant with friends at the young energetic 20’s, since there are no dependants and future only looks hopeful and bright. I said thank you then.

Classy dinner dates, ordering the best food and premium alcohol and trying to gauge the mood of the partner – is this the right one? I said thank you then, when you ensured that she got a special treatment. Then one gets married and an ideal DINK couple are the HNI group for restaurateurs and we were no different. I still remember, over a dinner at a Mumbai restaurant, my Bro in Law spent 17000 in 2010 for 5. I said a thank you then.

Then comes the child. You start looking for baby seats and kid friendly restaurants. All your staff took care to ensure that the kids have special experience. The broken glass, spilled water on table – all have been paid back with a smile and handshake. We said Thank You then.

Life went on, we changed jobs, changed cities, changed profession – eating out remained the same. In the mean time, we walked the fire and ran couple of restaurants in Mumbai and Pune and that’s the best upclose view we got into the industry. One of my job roles was definitely a trailer to this. The suits definitely don’t consider this as an essential service. However, it’s also one of those industries, where no matter what, ” The Show must go on” . Creditors, staff, supply, statutory payments, Government regulations; all on one side but the best food has to go out with impeccable service. What if that guest doesn’t leave with the best memory?

We started writing about food and that brought us close with wonderful souls dedicated to food, passionate about creativity and as if, all of them were born with the same aim in life – we will leave no stone unturned to see that the guest leaves my outlet with a best memory. Cannot name anyone in particular but can name the common theme song –

Buddy, you’re a boy, make a big noise
Playing in the street, gonna be a big man someday
You got mud on your face, you big disgrace
Kicking your can all over the place, singin’
We will, we will rock you
We will, we will rock you

Things continued like this as if someone had written – and they lived happily ever after. Man proposes God disposes. Till 12th, we were reviewing a newly opened Chinese restaurant and the details of that meal is still fresh in my mind…..

Then Corona happened over the weekend.

The sense of panic set in. Safety measures coupled with rumours spread from unreliable sources worked like an evil spell. Tourism got hit, airlines got hit, hotels got hit . Restaurants were not far off. We started calling up our friends. Some worried about paying the month’s rent, some worried about keeping the restaurant open.

Worries were many, anxieties were more but uncertainty was most. Some closed down in precaution, some waited. Some prayed for more delivery business, some thought of closing permanently. The timing of this is what exactly Voldermort could have ordered. March is when we close the books but by 2nd third week of March, the business starts looking up as schools get closed after exams. For Kolkata in particular, everyone starts warming up for the first major event of the year – Bengali new year. You close the accounts on a high at the year end and start planning for the Bengali New year.

Boom. Here goes all the plans Kaput.

We will say Thank You at this point of time. Your resilience, not letting it go and fight till the last bit has been inspirational. It has not all ended though. I know some of you camped in your restaurants, some made additional arrangements for the employees and each one of you, outdid yourselves to fight this adverse time. For the safety of us all and for better days, we have to stay away from each other. That doesn’t mean the relationship has severed. It’s a temporary break and we all will come back together. It will be a long journey and yet we will travel that path together. I am sure, prayers of such a huge industry, which is one of the highest employers of the country, won’t go unnoticed. The scars will take time to heal yet we will spend that time together.

Thank you but not to end this but thank you in advance, for all the memories that we will create in the coming days. Smiling faces, great food and cash registers ringing. Stay strong and let’s change the theme song for the time being?


So no one told you life was gonna be this way
Your job’s a joke, you’re broke
Your love life’s D.O.A
It’s like you’re always stuck in second gear
When it hasn’t been your day, your week, your month
Or even your year, but
I’ll be there for you
(When the rain starts to pour)
I’ll be there for you
(Like I’ve been there before)
I’ll be there for you
(‘Cause you’re there for me too)
You’re still in bed at ten
And work began at eight
You’ve burned your breakfast, so far
Things are going great
Your mother warned you there’d be days like these
But she didn’t tell you when the world has brought
You down to your knees and
I’ll be there for you
(When the rain starts to pour)
I’ll be there for you
(Like I’ve been there before)
I’ll be there for you
(‘Cause you’re there for me too)
Thank you .
From a couple who loves you and your food too much

P.S. – I have always drawn inspiration from sports and cricket in particular. One of the greatest turnaround in life and in history of sports happened in Kolkata in 2001 when India was followed on by Australia. Rest is History. At times, the first Innings may be very dismal, disappointing and feel like the end of the tunnel. Despite that, when you go to bat once again its a second innings, a fresh guard and you can score a record and lead your team to a historic victory. Just like what Laxman did. 

We tried to make an album out of some and not all wonderful food memories in the recent times. I will keep on adding as and when we get more pics

Rushina had taken me for a wonderful meal at Seefah Bandra and Seefah Ketachiyo with her husband Karan Bane are cooking some storm in Mumbai.

A happy picture and any meal at Doma di’s is a happy meal . Seen here our close friend Shyamoli Sinha from Australia who runs a very successful youtube channel called Foodieshut

That was Mithi with a happy smile after she completed the banana pancake at Thakali

Sujoy Gupta Exec Chef Taj Bengal and Afzal the F&B Director are like Salim Javed , During my stay last year Sujoy spent an entire evening with us at Sonargaon and its stories over some great kakori Kebab

Mr. Pranabendu Bagchi runs Netaji Cabin in Siliguri. A place with a rich history, it has two floor sitting arrangement and from morning 7 till midnight people come here for tea and special butter toast

Koonga on Mall ROad Darjeeling is no longer a hidden gem and seen here with the owners who for more than 30 years have been running and serving one of the best Momos

Tugga had a wonderful meal at Marriott by Courtyard Siliguri and this is one of the fondest memory of that trip

The Boys had a lunch date when the mommy was away in Mumbai and The Fatty Bao Kolkata was the destination.

As we say, Love is when Sushi gets served to Tugga and he looks at it

Debjani and Madhushree had their first food festival at Chilekotha . Seen here with Deblina Chakrabarty the owner . Another must visit for Bengali cuisine

Have known Joy Guha since my Taj Bengal days and any meal at Monkey Bar is special to us.

As a kid before The Fatty Bao, Tugga always wanted to visit Pan Asian for some reason or other

Indian Accent by Manish Mehrotra 31

Not many days you get to enjoy the company of Chef Manish Mehrotra

Any time I run into Siddhartha da – the owner of Bhojohori Manna, its a warm hug and to take lot of positivity from him . Love the way how he manages the chain

Ekdalia Rd KOlkata - that wall

That wall in front of the kitchen of Ekdalia Rd which is sheer inspiration

This is a special pic, on the day Urvika was listed one of the Top Chefs under 40 in India. We discuss food and food and food and needless to say we love her food

Prabhash Ghosh is the owner of Aponjon and my fav place for telebhaja . He started when he was 25 with vegetable chops and still cooks at his shop for the majority part

That was when we met Asma for the first time. She was kind enough to gift me a copy of her book and any words will fall short for her efforts. She was heartbroken to have Darjeeling Express Closed down yet her first concern was her employees

Chef Kirk Westaway – the executive Chef of Michelin star restaurant Jaan in Singapore. His story of handling tomatoes was an engaging one

One of the happy meals in recent times was at Crepestan , Srijolina flies around like a butterfly in the restaurant and some good crepes for sue. Once all this ends, Tugga need to visit this place for sure

Any words for this meal will be less. This was after our Godrej foodtrend reports East meeting in Raaj Kutir . The only man in formal dress is an old friend who can cook too. Subrata Debnath is the Business Head at Raajkutir and East India Room is our go to place

A friend , a crazy friend who is also a chef . He at times gets behind is alter ego which is bitchibawarchi . Parathe wali gaali , his restaurant completed 3 years last year and we threw a challenge to him to make a paratha with

With my Ex Boss Kishore Poduri and Sumita his wife after a grand lunch in Sonar Tori . Bengali fine dining has been taken to a different level

Chef Sumanta is the executive Chef for Neotia Group , a warm person who always keeps a surprise up his sleeve for any meal

We met Piyush before even he opened his restaurant The Coastal Macha and its a great feeling to see him grow in strength . Always love his food

Sharmistha is a good friend and runs a restaurant called Tenali – The Andhra Kitchen and again was one of the first too shut down her restaurant to avoid any spread of the virus. Next time we are in Delhi – I guess we will visit her first

We shared this with him and his wife Rashima too, his story is inspirational and we are a great fan of him. Vineet Bhatia inspires you not only with his food but his lifestory too

Grand Pujor Mahabhoj is now an annual event and its tough to mention what we look forward more the get together or the lipsmacking food. Seen here Chef Rajat Jyoti Mukherjee, Karo, Rushina, Dolon and Debjani

We always leave Vintage Asia with a smile and Chef Alxsander Cheng is one of the best in his cuisine

It was an honor to meet owners of Aminia and no visit is complete wiuthout pasinda kebab and Khada Masala and firni

When we had this meal on 23rd Feb, little did we know that how things will change in 1 month. With friends who are food writers and researchers , the meal is a different experience altogether. It was at Bayroute , Powai. From left Shubhra Chatterji, Anubhuti Krishna, Sangeeta Khanna and Ruth DSouza Prabhu