(L-R) Hyatt Regency general manager Birgit Holm, French consul-general Damien Syed, sound therapist Christine Hays and author Kunal Basu raise a toast at the Gout de France dinner.
Calcutta beeped on the global culinary map on March 21 by taking part in Gout de France, an initiative of celebrated chef Alain Ducasse and the French ministry of foreign affairs and international development to celebrate French gastronomy.
“Tonight, 2,000 chefs around the world are serving French food. There are 66 restaurants in India which have taken part in the event, including nine in Calcutta,” said the French consul-general, Damien Syed, as he sat for dinner at La Cucina, the Italian speciality restaurant at Hyatt Regency which had flipped culinary colours for the night.
“I am educated as a chef and French cuisine is treated as the bible in western cooking. So, it is a wonderful occasion for us to serve French food to our guests,” said Birgit Holm, the Hyatt Regency general manager.
Chef de cuisine Sumeet Priyadarshi said he had tried to keep the menu simple. “My guests are well-travelled and exposed to French cuisine. So I have not tried to complicate the dishes with too many flavours.”
The five-course meal was accompanied by wine and conversation. There were macaroons in red, white and blue — the colours of the French flag — as takeaway gifts.
Atri Bhattacharya, tourism, information and cultural affairs principal secretary, soon joined in.
Anna Lazar, a winner of the Gout de France contest, with husband Matthew Wallace. Anna works for the Swiss NGO Terre des Hommes Foundation and has been in Calcutta for three months now. “My earlier office was near the French border in Switzerland. Sometimes we drove across the border for French food,” she said. Anna tackled a quiz on French gastronomy successfully on the Alliance Francaise du Bengale website to win the dinner for two at La Cucina.
The desserts on display. “French cuisine is known for desserts. So we served a library of 10 all-time favourites,” said chef de cuisine Priyadarshi.
Text: Sudeshna Banerjee
Pictures: B. Halder