Tag Archives: Calcutta Street

From food blogging to Calcutta Street – the journey

 

Hi everyone!

I am so sorry for spending so much time away from my lovely blog that has got me where I am today. I promise to be a regular again (and I mean it this time!). The reason I’ve been so quiet is because I’ve been busy working towards the launch of my restaurant Calcutta Street, which is opening on 18th July at 29 Tottenham Street, London (Just off Goodge street station) and this blog post is to fill you in on the crazy journey its been!

For all of you who have been following this blog from the start in 2010 – MASSIVE HUGS! Seriously, if you hadn’t followed, encouraged, and supported me back then (when I was posting those horrible webcam videos), I probably would have given up.

In December 2014, I decided to go on a soul-searching trip to the USA all by myself. If you have been a follower, then you might have read my post (and you’ll know that it was more eating than soul searching!) and I had a eureka moment; I knew I wanted to start my food popup.

eureka 3

I got back to London and mulled the idea over for a few months before I decided on a name for the popup – Calcutta Street. Magically, I found a lovely restaurant owner; Steve from Zensai who let me use his restaurant to host a popup. That’s when it all really began – 7th March, 2015.

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You can follow the rest of the first year on this very blog through articles and posts about the popups – just scroll down and you can see.

Popups are one thing but opening a restaurant in London is a whole different game – I had always dreamt about it but had thought that it was too far-fetched to achieve.

But that doesn’t mean it was a smooth ride, because each time I even mentioned the idea of starting a restaurant, I would hear the same things a thousand times:

“You are crazy!”

“You are twenty-six, a girl and international on top of that – you will never raise funding.”

“Restaurant is a tricky business, don’t quit your steady job.”

“No one gives funding to single-founder businesses.”

So on and so forth.

But I thought – OK, all that might be true but where’s the harm in trying? I might end up homeless (because I won’t have money to pay rent) but I have friends who will happily lend me their couch to sleep on! I might end up crying every day, but salt water is good for your skin!

So I did it. I decided to quit my job and take the plunge. I wrote a business plan, presented it to people, began the property search, and before I knew it I was fully funded! OK, so I missed out the crying sessions, sleepless nights and surviving on one meal a day bit – but that’s just part of the job!

Next came the tricky part; the fifty-year-old commercial property owners, who firstly refused to believe that I was twenty-six (do I really look like I’m in high school?!), and that I had the money or skills to start a restaurant. Three properties fell through and I eventually found a home in Fitzrovia – my favorite restaurant spot in London. Good things happen those who wait (even if they don’t wait patiently!!).

Finally, after jumping all these hurdles, I managed to gather together a team – project manager, creative director, architect, interior designer, branding guru, menu developer and builders. A bunch of us flew to Calcutta for a research trip for a week, had a blast shopping and soaking in every bit of the wonderful city. The trip also gave me an opportunity to introduce my team to my mum’s delicious home cooking, which after all was the inspiration behind everything!

I’ll spare you the boring parts of legal, structural engineering, building control, property issues, and get right on to the fun stuff, like building the site, writing the menu copy, creating the website, design, identity, recruitment, music development, food development and all sorts of exciting things. All these different elements make it feel like I’m directing a movie, and the premiere is on the 18th July! It’s exciting and stressful, but after all this, can I handle criticism about my baby? All I want is everyone to love it as much as I do, and even though I know that you can’t please everyone, if you guys keep showing the love that you always have, then that would be enough. I promise to keep entertaining you, keep in touch, and not disappoint you – even if that means the occasional silly video!

 

 

 

 

By the way, here is a shameless promotion for our social media. Show us some love!!!

Twitter: @calcuttast

Instagram: @calcuttastreet

Facebook: Calcutta Street

Calcutta Street X Jhalmuri Express Durga Pujo Jalsha PopUp

Durga Puja or Sharadotsav is an annual Hindu festival in South Asia that celebrates worship of the Hindu goddess Durga. It refers to all the six days observed as Mahalaya, Shashthi, Maha Saptami, Maha Ashtami, Maha Nabami and Vijayadashami. Durga Puja festival marks the victory of Goddess Durga over the evil buffalo demon Mahishasura. Thus, Durga Puja festival epitomises the victory of Good over Evil.

It is the biggest festival for all Bengali’s and the Bongs (short form of Bengali) look forward to this festival through out the year. I am no exception, even though I have been living away from Calcutta for over 9 years now, each year during this time my heart is in Calcutta, I want to hear the dhaki (Drummer) play the beats or enjoy the dancing, eating, drinking and all other festivities that goes on in the city. You have a few Durga Puja’s in London but they are all very traditional and back home that’s not how I or other youngsters celebrated it, we participated in the religious bits for probably an hour or so but the rest was always about adda session with friends.

With this PopUp I aim to recreate the whole vibe of Pujo in Calcutta – Music, Alcohol, Food, Dressing up, Dhaki’s tal, Rabindrasangeet and a lot more. So if you want to experience this amazing carnival experience from Calcutta come along for the Calcutta Street X Jhalmuri Express Durga Pujo PopUp at Stage 3 Hackney on 20th October 2015 (Saptami).

Calcutta Street X Jhalmuri Express
Calcutta Street X Jhalmuri Express
Cocktail Menu
Cocktail Menu

 

Angus Denoon from Jhalmuri Express and I got together during Notting Hill Carnival 2015 and we had a lot of fun so I am expecting just the same this time. Have a look at the photos.

Calcutta Street and The everybody love love jhal muri express presents to you – An evening to celebrate the start of Durga puja with the sensory pleasures of music, food, drinks and each others company in true bengali style in a beautifully decorated space. Durga puja is kolkata’s greatest festival that salutes the victory of good over evil and the authentic and original street food stalls and live music will transport you to the mighty city for the night.

 BOOK TICKETS HERE 

 

Friday evenings with Calcutta Street at Woodlands

I know I have been MIA (yeah I recently discovered this modern day lingo – Missing in action) but that is because a lot has been happening recently. I went back to Calcutta for the first time after I started Calcutta Street, and I thought it would be a nice idea to film a video there to give you a taste of REAL Calcutta. So I headed to The Hope Foundation Cafe in Calcutta and hosted a special PopUp with the girls (who have been rescued by The Hope Foundation and are now independent women) there.

However I have an exciting news to share – Now you can visit my Calcutta Street PopUps every Friday evenings at Woodlands Restaurant, Marylebone. So all those people who missed out on the PopUp’s due to date issues as it was just once a month you have no more excuses  now.

I will be making one exclusive Bengali Dish every Friday evening and you can’t start the weekend without Cocktails so I will be making some of those too 🙂

Here is the Menu:

Calcutta Street x Woodlands
Calcutta Street x Woodlands

Here are some photographs from the first week!

The menu was : Luchi – Alur Dum (Puffed Bread with Slow cooked potatoes with bengali spices) along with special cocktails – Rum Chai, Fresh off the boat and Maharaja Fashioned. You can find the recipe on the video above 🙂

 

 

Calcutta Street Second Pop Up at Bonnie Gull, Exmouth Market

It was a bright sunny day on April 11 and London was basking in it’s full blown glory – how could I have a better day to host my second Calcutta Street, Seafood special Pop Up? I would love to thank each and every one who attended it and by the looks of it enjoyed my food. There is nothing more satisfying for me than to watch other people enjoy my food – It makes all the 18 hours of cooking and prep totally worth it.

And a massive Hi5 to all the staff at Bonnie Gull for being absolutely fabulous, efficient and super friendly – Makes a sea of a difference! An a bigger Hi5 to Luke Robinson (Head Chef) and Gavin (Exec Chef) for making the whole process so smooth sailing. Finally I can’t thank Cobra Beer and Lord Billimoria enough for sponsoring the beers, they definitely make the food taste better!

I wanted to share the photographs from the day with all of you (who care to read this blog). Hope to see some more of you at my next Pop Up!

 

 

Photographs by Kheya Chattopadhyay

My next Pop-Up will be a very special one as it has two of my favourite things Calcutta Food and Jazz (with some Indian instruments like sitar). Save the date!

Calcutta Street Jazz Special – 4th May (6 pm – 9 pm) at Stage 3, Hackney! 

More details to follow soon!

Love,

Shrim xx