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Chef Subir Deb Breaks The Stereotype

Chef Subir Deb is the Brand Chef of Oh! Calcutta. He chose to be a chef breaking the stereotype at a time when it was not the popular option but hardly even an acceptable option. Another anti-stereotype is his biggest culinary influence is his father. He spent his childhood being an assistant chef to his father in the kitchen. In conversation with Explocity.

Where did you grow up?

My roots lie in Ranchi. I have spent most of the time of my early life over there. For my career, I had to migrate. My journey began with gathering experience in metro cities like Taj Bengal Kolkata, Hyatt Regency Kolkata and Mumbai. Currently, I take care of all the units of Oh! Calcutta in India, so I get to travel around wherever we have our outlets like Mumbai, Kolkata, Hyderabad, Bengaluru, Gurugram and Delhi.

What led you to becoming a chef?

The inspiration behind becoming a chef goes a long way back. Since my childhood days, I have been a foodie and loved to eat different types of food. Also, I saw my father trying out new dishes and he kept me as an assistant. This sowed the seed of the knack of cooking within me. When we visited restaurants and hotels, the different types of dishes made me wonder about the varied cuisines. 
When I grew up, I too tried out many dishes and the response from my guests was quite nice. When I was on the brink of my schooling and I had to decide what to do next , I thought of trying out something different - breaking the stereotypes. I decided to follow my passion and area of interest. Receiving the support of my family, I stepped into the shoes of a "Would be Chef".

What do you enjoy more? Cooking or creating?

Well, I have been a chef since my younger age, but officially speaking, I have been a chef for the last 25 years. Getting enrolled in 1990 and after completing my degree in Hotel Management in 1993, I received my first career opportunity in Taj Bengal. Since then, I have been serving happily in this industry.
"Cooking or Creating" - both go hand in hand, but if I were to choose in between the two I would prefer "Creation" - as it speaks of my ideas and new thoughts of mine. 
Frankly speaking, during the beginning years of my career, I preferred "cooking”, considering that in order to make something concrete, the base needs to be strong. So I focused on sharpening my cookery skills and then I switched over to "Creation" as my priority.


Do you feel there is virtue in preserving the authenticity of cuisine?

Speaking of - "virtue in the preservation of authenticity of a cuisine" - I prefer to preserve the authenticity, because the taste of a dish prepared in the classic way surpasses any other way of preparing the same dish. But as human nature changes with time, so does human lifestyle. As everyone knows that city life has become pretty fast, so in order to keep pace with that, I make slight and optimum changes in the dishes, to suit the lifestyle of our guests.

Let me cite an example for this - Previously our guests used to prefer dishes of fish with bones, but now people prefer boneless ones. So, keeping this in mind, I have made the changes accordingly without eroding the authenticity of the cuisine.


What dish do you like eating the most?

Life is full of discoveries, so speaking of dishes I like the most - I prefer dishes which I haven't tasted before, dishes which give my taste buds a zing. Hence, I like to discover new cuisines and dishes and there is no such “one favourite” for me. Also, such dishes give me new ideas for experimenting and creating new ones.


What’s your least favourite dish?

Now speaking of least favourite ones, it's really a tough call for me. Till date, I haven't tasted any dish which didn’t suit me. I see every dish as a new concept and they in some areas need improvements. Once they are made, those dishes can do wonders.


How long have you been in Bangalore?

For my job, I need to travel all around India. I look after all the units of Oh! Calcutta in India. So, every one and a half months, I need to visit every state where our outlet is located. For the last seven years, I have been doing the same and hence I visit Bengaluru very frequently.


Do you like it here?

Yes, definitely I like it here.
Bengaluru also known as Garden City, has a definite reason, according to me to be given this name. When we visit a garden, we feel very fresh and energized and so is the city. I get amazed to see that how a city can contain such a rich culture both in tradition and food and on top of that a weather which is just great and relaxing. In short, the city is just awesome.