Chef Subhashree and The Hungry Cat Kitchen
Subhashree Basu does not discriminate when it comes to good food. She learned about the importance of ingredients from books by Nigel Slater, Simon Hopkinson and Nigella Lawson. But she is also someone who relishes Rajma Chawal at a roadside food joint or a simple Kerala Sadhya. After several years at a corporate job, she quit, to pursue her love for cooking by starting her brand Hungry Cat Kitchen.
She says, “We are promoting home style comfort food, the kind that comes to mind when you visualize a noisy table with family and friends on a Sunday afternoon. And when you think of comfort food, you realize things don’t happen in a jiffy. It requires patience and love. Hence slow cooking fits into my scheme of things.”
Subhashree is a graduate in Economics from Jadavpur University in Kolkata. She moved to Mumbai in 2003 and has worked in Print and Television space selling for over a decade. She comes from a family where everyone has worked in the service industry. Becoming a chef was an obvious choice because Subhashree loves to cook. As a self-taught home chef, culinary books, the internet and television have been her teachers.
She chose to specialize in pork primarily because none of the food joints she frequented were able to do justice to the meat’s inherent deliciousness.
“I kept it simple, and it worked. My offering includes pork curries, pies, casseroles and everything symbolic of home cooking. Having said that, I don’t cook only pork. I cook other meat, seafood and vegetable items too.”
The home chef feels that consistency of ingredients is a huge problem for small players like her. Big restaurants already have steady suppliers that take away the majority of supplies from the market. So she insists on nurturing good relationships with suppliers to get quality ingredients to cook with.
She also informs, “The average customer has too many options on his plate and unfortunately there some industry folks who have inadvertently turned it into a price game in order to sustain in the short run. When you do not charge a price that is rightfully yours, not only do you pull yourself down, you pull others down with you too.”
The chef finds entrepreneurship empowering because it has enabled her to play multiple roles and make her own decisions.
Inadvertently, it also makes you responsible for your failures and shortcomings. But Subhashree is ambitious and steadfast and wants to reach a point where she is in the top five consideration list of delivery and catering options of every discerning foodie in Mumbai.
She says, “Unlike a lot of other professions where you can make yourself dispensable and play referee from the top, this profession is all about staying on your toes, all the time. Perhaps this is because taste is a matter of individual preference. You have to take constant feedback from customers, separate the wheat from the chaff and then work on them.
…If there is a driving force behind becoming an entrepreneur, it should be passion. You can’t do things for money or to fill some gap you foresee in the market. You cannot push yourself to go to work and face problems daily (which you will, guaranteed) if you do not genuinely love what you are doing.”