Food is an essential part of our lives, but there are people who dedicate their entire lives to food and everything else about it. And given Kolkata’s prominence on the food map of India, there’s no dearth of exquisite food joints as well as foodies who flock to it.
Being a foodie is great, but to know the finer nuances of the edible part of our life is an art in itself. And foodies from Kolkata have set fire to the gastronomical affair in the city’s food scene and how!
Team Beacon Kolkata got in touch with Rukshana Kapadia aka Culinary Commentator, one of the city’s well-known food reviewer and critic, to know more about the tasty affair going on between the city of joy and its culinary fare.
How and when did you begin with culinary commentator?
Culinary commentator began as a Facebook page initially and not as a blog; I used to write on Zomato way back when it had started not when it became such a big thing now. I got a lot of requests to turn in to something more concrete and the FB page was born 4 years back.
When you started with the Culinary Commentator, how would you describe the food bloggers scene then and how it is now?
Well at that time I don’t think there were a lot of food bloggers, maybe only a handful who genuinely knew and understood food and wrote about it.
Today, unfortunately, I think blogging in Kolkata has become diluted— for me blogging is sharing something about food—the way I eat, or a particular dining experience that was enriching.
We know you through the lens of the Culinary Commentator, there must be a different side to you. Would you like to tell us about it?
Food is a very important part of my life in general, I have a very deep connection with it, I feel it brings people closer and brings down barriers and boundaries. Basically, I like exploring the world; and having said that for me exploring is not just about going to a new place but it’s also about the culture, the people, the local experience, and every place has a different vibe, smell and feel to it.
Unfortunately, I have a 9-5 job and it ties me down, but I absolutely love where I work— Switz Foods, the company that owns the ‘Mio Amore’ franchise in eastern India.
How would you describe Kolkata’s food scene evolving into a multifaceted one?
That has been the most exciting part of the Culinary journey because back in the days, in Kolkata the food was just about Chinese, Indian or Mughlai, you had the Calcutta Conti and not too many options to be frank. Food from then and now has been absolutely terrific, the way it has evolved. I think Kolkata has become far more experimental and I love the fact that small and standalone food joints are flourishing well.
And Kolkata has really started dining out, earlier it would just be on occasions or business. Now the eating culture has evolved, and people are not hesitant about eating out or ordering in on any given day. And it’s exciting to be part of this terrific food revolution in the city.
Given the number of restaurants opening up in Kolkata off late, what would be that one advice you would give to every new food entrepreneur in the city?
I think the one advice that I’d give to every food entrepreneur is that don’t overreach— I’ve always told my friends in the food business, that in my opinion, even when we decide to experiment while dining out, 9 times out of 10 we order the dishes we are comfortable with and at the most we’ll order one dish that’s out of our comfort zone to maybe increase your food repertoire or probably order it again in the next visit. So always have what I call the comfort food and focus on the quality of that because any Kolkattan going to dine out will order the food he/she is comfortable with. Don’t try to be too exotic because Kolkata is still relatively conventional in its palette.
What do you think the city still lacks in terms of cuisine and variety of food?
A cuisine that I think has vastly been ignored, I feel, is South American and African food. I think we are generally caught up with the continental food which in Kolkata is basically Italian or French.
Do you think Kolkattans are receptive to new varieties of food?
The new generation is far more receptive to new cuisines and variety of food compared to the last generation. They want to try new things and experience the world on their plate; and a lot of that has happened due to internet, social media and pop culture.
Lastly, one food joint you would absolutely want Kolkata to have and why?
I would love to see Parsi food coming to Kolkata; hence SodaBottle OpenerWala would be a great addition to the city’s food scene.