Equipped with a Master’s degree in Business Administration, Sambit Banik embarked on a teaching career. But his end goal was always clear: becoming a chef.
Fond food memories
Sambit Banik’s love for food was kindled at a very young age. “Nearly all of my associations of childhood happiness are to do with food,” he says. “I remember the many bhog dishes my grandmother would cook the day after Janmashtami. And the Prasad served on the ghats in Benares. The thought of making laddoos with my friends’ mothers – all these make for very happy memories.”
Sambit knew he would always follow his passion for food. He got his Master’s Degree from XLRI, Jamshedpur, wanting to find a means to sustain his dream and also to learn the nuances of finance and business. “Therefore, I didn’t opt for a corporate career, choosing instead to teach business in various colleges,” he says. Sambit’s last assignment was at the Institute of Engineering Management in Kolkata.
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Prepping for the chef’s life
While he was teaching, Sambit set forth to study cooking the practical way. After his day job was completed, he spent evenings working in a restaurant kitchen, learning the ropes. He didn’t get paid for it and spent 7 years doing this uncomplainingly. “I was just preparing myself for my career as a full-time chef,” he says. Sambit also sat for a skill test at the IIHM, Kolkata, and got certified.
“My institute, IEM, was kind enough to give me a sabbatical and I went to study at Le Cordon Bleu in France,” he says. Sambit returned home, equipped with sophisticated techniques that he would merge with his love of Indian food.
A restaurant of his own
Soon, Sambit learnt of a restaurant that was up for sale. “I had no resources. I pledged my wife’s jewellery to put up the collateral for a bank loan and started Spice Kraft,” he says. “With my education and teaching I knew the basics of business and finance, but running a restaurant was a learning experience.” Sambit’s passion stood him in good stead and he hung in there through the challenging early days.
“The restaurant business is the only one where you see the immediate result of your creative efforts,” says Sambit. His biggest high is seeing happy customers. “I’ve had couples who’ve dated at Spice Kraft and asked me to do the catering for their wedding. I couldn’t ask for more,” says this passionate chef.
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