WHAT TOOK THE BAKERY!
Calcuttans got a special gift this Christmas — freshly baked festive goodies from the 173-year-old bakery at The Lalit Great Eastern (erstwhile Auckland Hotel, rechristened The Great Eastern Hotel). The Bakery opened doors after eight years to serve up Plumcake, Fruit Cake, assorted chocolates and cookies from 8am to 9pm on December 24 and 25. As Calcuttans from Baranagar to Behala queued up to take home a slice of heritage, cakes and cookies flew off the shelves and chefs had to put a fresh batch into the oven by noon.
“We baked around 2,500 cakes and thought that would be enough for two days but I am surprised how everything has been running out! The whole team went back to the oven in the afternoon to bake fresh batches,” said Nimish Bhatia, the corporate executive chef.
Most had to wait for an hour or even two as the queue snaked its way to the end of Waterloo Street and beyond. “I have worked in this area for 39 years and have a soft corner for Great Eastern. I would often come and get biscuits, breads and cakes from here. Today I will get a cake for my granddaughter who is 5,” said Chhabi Ghosh, 63, a resident of Behala.
The Bakery team took a lunch break from 2pm to 3.30pm, but the ovens were still churning out fresh batches. Such was the demand that the hotel set a one-cake-per-person limit when the counter reopened in the afternoon. By 5pm, the city’s nostalgia quotient had reached a new high — around 10,000 cakes sold out! “We are literally selling hot cakes since we don’t have the time to cool them,” said chef Bhatia.
A “Fresh Bake Break” followed at 5.30pm to replenish the fast-depleting stocks and a separate counter was set up for chocolates and cookies.
For general manager Rakesh Mitra, who himself stepped out to help in the crowd management, this was “the moment we had been eagerly waiting for”! “The response has been overwhelming. We are hoping to open The Bakery by January as we are still awaiting some licences,” he said.
At close of sale on Tuesday, The Bakery team had served up and sold 12,000 cakes — a very merry Christmas indeed for the heritage hotel.
The proceeds from the sales will be handed over to the chief minister’s relief fund. The cakes are priced at Rs 300 (fruit) and Rs 400 (plum).
■ Royal Stag Music CDs presents The Telegraph Xmas Special at Dalhousie Institute, where Western band Crest and DJ Rishi will belt out retro and pop hits
■ 100 Pipers Pure Music presents The Telegraph Xmas Feast at RCGC, featuring Rajput Terriers and live jazz
■ Bengal Rowing Club Christmas Carnival, in association with t2, with Santa’s Toon as theme for the little ones
■ Raichak on Ganges, in association with t2, presents Christmas Celebrations
■ The Telegraph presents Space Circle Christmas Carnival, with games, rides and a pet shop for kids
■ DKS Annual Week, in association with t2, will host a Children’s Day Out
■ Outram Club, in association with The Telegraph, presents December Dhamaka, where the highlights are a magic show and a play named Alibaba for kids
■ Hindusthan Club, in association with The Telegraph, presents Club Carnival, with games, music and food for kids
■ Honey Singh Yo Yo Express 2013 Live in Concert, in association with t2, at Aquatica, 6pm to 10pm
■ Rajasthani dance and food at Aapno Gaon Rajasthani Mela, in association with t2, at Nicco Park Big Lawn
■ Calcutta Christmas Festival on Park Street, featuring festive food, carols and performances by Ritika Sahni, Blue Mist and Skinny Alley
Bars at hotels with four stars and above may remain open round-the-clock and bars at hotels with up to three stars till 4am. Other bars and restaurants are allowed to run till 2am. Off-shops will open and close as usual.
Vehicles, including two-wheelers, will be banned on the Park Street stretch between JL Nehru Road and Wood Street from 5pm to 1am. Vehicles will be allowed to enter Park Street from the Mullickbazar end and go up to the Wood Street crossing. The Park hotel can be entered from Russell Street.
Parking will be allowed on
● Stretch between Dorina crossing and Mayo Road intersection on JL Nehru Road
● Mayo Road
● Outram Road
● Western flank of Russell Street
● Wood Street
Christmas Eve was warm and Christmas Day is likely to be only slightly cooler.
Text: Sneha Dutta and Our Bureau