A journey from Calcutta Street to London's heart

26-year-old Kolkatan becomes the first woman and chef to open a Bengali restaurant in the City

Rupanjana Dutta Friday 08th January 2016 20:37 EST

26 Year old Shrimoyee Chakraborty is all excited to be the first Bengali woman from Kolkata to open her own restaurant as the Chef in London's City area. Known as the Calcutta Street, the restaurant will be open on 7 March 2016, at 118 Bricklane, opposite Old Truman Brewery. Bricklane that is home to many Bangladeshi restaurants, that are often passed off as Indian, is known to be a curry paradise. Literally stone throw away from London's financial district, especially Liverpool Street and the trendy Shoreditch and Hoxton, the restaurant promises to be a new 'talk of the town' and 'must go' for foodies. 

Shrimoyee, popularly called by her friends as Shrim, a bubbly and attractive character, is an inspiration for younger generation, especially young and creative women. With a 'can do' attitude, she started this journey as a pop-up in last March, the first being on 7 March 2015 in a pub at London's Camden Market. At a reasonable price, she offered a three course authentic home made Bengali food, and that was just the beginning of the journey. She then had several pop ups all across central London and the City, all sold out- even themed ones.

This middle-range restaurant (£35 for two) is going to make authentic home made Bengali cuisine from Kolkata available for everyone like never before. From phuchka to pach meshali sobji to dab chingri to paturi to to rosogolla and mishti doi, the menu currently includes 21 Bengali main dishes. 

Calcutta Street restaurant has been started with investments from 5 investors as of now, including Shrimoyee herself and another Indian, is shaping up well, bringing old Kolkata living room charm into one of London's most sought after location. Inspired by Satyajit Ray's true image of an old Kolkata parlour (or living room), the interior will be done by Sanket Avlani from the Taxi fabric and the very classic and true vintage windows, doors, fans, chandelier (and may be an arm-chair) are donated by Paromita Biswas from the famous Dasghara Biswas family in Hooghly, West Bengal.

The restaurant will not just stick to elaborate dinner menus, but will cater to the rushing office lunchers too, with special dishes of the day that will be quick, yet be filled with the warmth and traditions of Bengal.

Shrimoyee grew up in Jodhpur Park (an upmarket area in South Kolkata) with mother Shrabani, who is a well known Rabindrasangeet singer and father Tarun, a businessman who runs a chain of research and diagnostic centres called Mediclue and not to forget her younger brother Shrijit. She studied in Ashok Hall school, and then went to Sophia College in Mumbai. After graduating with a degree in Mass Media she landed in Manchester to study Msc in Global Business Analysis, at the Manchester Business School. After a few, but important stints at different places, 5 and a half years later, here we have Shrimoyee, opening her first ever restaurant in the heart of London.

Speaking to Asian Voice exclusively, Shrimoyee said, “When we talk about Bengali food in Britain's restaurants, it's never the Bengali food we grew up eating in Kolkata. So I wanted to bring authentic home-made Kolkata-Bengali food to Britons. 7 March will be an exact year from my first pop up. I followed my dream and am very excited that this journey has been successful so far.

“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.”

Will her proud parents join her on the opening night of her restaurant? Shrimoyee added with a smile, “I hope so. I mostly hope my grandfather Sunil can, who has been a great inspiration for me and my Calcutta Street journey.”

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