One of Kolkata’s oldest bakeries, at The Lalit Great Eastern Hotel, established in 1830, will be awarded the Culinary Heritage Recognition plaque by the Kolkata chapter of the Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage (Intach) on Sunday.
Previously, 14 other heritage eateries have been awarded the plaque.
“Great Eastern was first named Wilson’s Hotel and then renamed The Auckland Hotel (named after the first Earl of Auckland, George Eden) and then as Great Eastern Hotel Wine & General Purveying Co,” said Intach convener G.M. Kapur.
David Wilson, who built Wilson’s Hotel, opened the bakery in mid-1830 before he built the hotel, which was inaugurated on November 19, 1840. It was the only popular bakery for Britishers. To keep the sense of history about the hotel, the huge Side Flue bakery oven, which replaced the old beehive oven, has been used in bits and parts in the present bakery.
Back then, there used to be a multiple shop or a departmental store on the ground floor. To quote Rudyard Kipling’s description of it in The City of Dreadful Night, “a man could walk in at one end, buy a complete outfit, a wedding present, or seeds for the garden, have an excellent meal, a burra peg and if the barmaid was agreeable, walk out at the other end engaged to be married”.
The long name was shortened to The Great Eastern Hotel in 1915. It was so luxurious and well-managed that Mark Twain called it “the best hotel east of the Suez”.
Intach is organising a walk and talk around the landmark hotel in Esplanade, which has been renovated by the Lalit Hotels, Palaces and Resorts.
“For the people of Kolkata, The Bakery is an emotion, a true essence of the city. A place where one can feel and enjoy the glory of the erstwhile capital of India. We hope to continue the legacy and preserve the heritage for generations to come,” said Dilip Mishra, general manager, The Lalit Great Eastern.