Nabhojit Ghosh: the chef who is making gourmet food accessible to the massesSharika Nair
The co-founder of foodtech startup 48East is leveraging his extensive experience in five-star kitchens to bring fine dining to homes and offices.
Nabhojit Ghosh, Chief Culinary Officer and Co-founder, 48East, is making good use of his three decades of experience in the food industry. After serving as the executive chef of various Oberoi and Taj restaurants, he was the chief culinary officer at foodtech pioneer FreshMenu where he designed and curated menus and oversaw the operations of 26 kitchens in Bengaluru, Mumbai, and Gurgaon. Prior to joining hands with Joseph Cherian for 48East, he also worked for a South Indian QSR — Vasudev Adigas in Bengaluru — where he led the opening of 17 new outlets and also a 25,000 meal-capacity catering kitchen.
Food aficionados should understand food and take interest in its history to enjoy food in its original form!
While Nabhojit has dabbled in several global cuisines, his primary love has been for Asian food. While Asian cuisine, be it Indonesian or Vietnamese, is similar to the Indian palate, it is also different enough to bring in an element of the exotic. With a weekly changing menu, 48East serves gourmet-style dishes from 48 countries like Uzbekistan, Lebanon, Thailand, Laos, Indonesia, and Japan, so it’s no surprise that food lovers have rapidly taken to it.
The venture currently operates five kitchens in Bengaluru and processes over 100 orders a day. 48East has raised $500,000 in pre-Series A funding from the Al Dhaheri family based in the UAE and before that, the startup had raised $250,000 in a round of angel funding from Agra-based ACPL exports.
The entrepreneur and the chef
About his two roles, Nabhojit, 55, says, “I have been a chef for more than 30 years now; hence it has become a part of my personality. My transition from chef to entrepreneur did pose some challenges initially. Being an entrepreneur requires one to wear many hats. However, my role as an entrepreneur is a big part of my identity today. Creativity and logical thinking have to go hand in hand. Both these roles somehow started to balance without my realising it.”
Nabhojit’s food journey began in 1987 when he trained in French cuisine. He went on to work at the iconic Oberoi Grand, Kolkata, where his stint at the Ming Court helped him get a strong grip on Chinese cuisine. Post his stint at the Oberoi, Nabhojit flew to Miami to complete a specialisation course for a year. On his return, he worked with the Trident in Chennai and later took over as the executive chef at Taj Radisson in Kathmandu.
Nabhojit has been responsible for the ideation, planning, and execution of some of the finest five-star kitchen setups right from scratch. At Taj Malabar, he set up The Pavilion, which specialises in Thai food, as well as the popular Rice Boat known for its seafood delicacies. At Taj Coromandel, Nabhojit helped establish the Chinese restaurant Golden Dragon and the South Indian restaurant Southern Spice.
Nabhojit, who curated Abhishek and Aishwarya Rai Bachchan’s wedding menu, has also served the royal family of Nepal and the president of Singapore, who later invited him to the country as a state guest.
From serving the niche crowd to the aam junta
The biggest satisfaction of moving to foodtech has been the larger customer base that Nabhojit now caters to. He says,
As a chef in five-star hotels, I realised that despite creating a wide array of culinary offerings, I could only reach a handful of people. My intention was to reach out to the masses which was possible through online brands. Through 48East, I am able to offer gourmet Asian food to the masses at affordable prices.
One of the primary challenges in the delivery format was ensuring that the experience of eating gourmet Asian food at home was like the experience of eating at a fine dining restaurant. Dishes like dim sums don’t travel well and ideally should be consumed on the spot. However, Nabhojit was able to overcome this challenge without compromising on quality and taste.
The chef says focused training is the only way to maintain consistency in taste and quality. He explains, “Ensuring the dishes taste the same every single time is the key to gaining customer loyalty. At 48East, we follow a thorough training process to ensure consistency in taste across outlets.”
Despite having numerous opportunities to get into different senior roles in the hotel industry, Nabhojit stubbornly chose to remain a ‘chef’, the reason being the kick he gets out of creating new elements for menus.
Nabhojit believes travel is the best therapy for destressing. He signs off with, “Food is not a commodity. One has to ‘feel’ food to understand the intricacies involved in it. The importance always lies at the backend infrastructure, so that we are able to offer quality and hygienic dishes.”