From collaborating with world-class chefs to creating incredible food events and pop-ups, Chef Anirban Dasgupta’s constant effort has been to introduce Punekars and the city’s foodies to global food experiences. In conversation with Slurrp, the chef opened up about his journey and the way he’s impacting Pune’s food scene.
If you have caught a glimpse of the recent Gods of Gourmet show on Disney+ Hotstar, then you would of course be familiar with Chef Anirban Dasgupta, the Director of Culinary at Conrad Pune. As the only episode dedicated to the city of Pune and one of its most influential restaurants, Al Di La, the focus on the immense contributions made by this chef was nothing short of well-deserved. For those unaware, Pune is a tier-1 city which is quickly making its mark in the modern Indian food scene, and the work done by Chef Anirban Dasgupta plays a huge role here.
From collaborating with world-class chefs, like Michelin-starred Chef Rahul Rana and Chef Vicky Ratnani to name a few, to creating incredible food events and pop-ups around Chettinad cuisine to Korean street food, Chef Anirban Dasgupta’s constant effort has been to introduce Punekars and the city’s foodies to global food experiences. In conversation with Slurrp in an exclusive interview, Chef Anirban Dasgupta opened up about his incredible journey from Bengal to India’s best culinary hotspots, and so much more.
Gods Of Gourmet & The Focus On Al Di La
While the Conrad Pune has plenty of restaurants—Koji, Masu, Zeera, Kabana and Coriander Kitchen—Al Di La stands out and on top, literally. A rooftop restaurant with the view of the city, live musical performances and an Italian menu singing with authentic flavours, Al Di La made quite the splash on Gods of Gourmet as one of the best restaurants Pune has to offer. The experience of shooting for the show, Chef Anirban Dasgupta says, was quite surreal.
“The documentary was definitely the highest point in my culinary career spanning 22 years,” he explains. “With my middle-class upbringing coming out of a conservative mindset, breaking the mould and the urge to do something else was beautifully captured by the show. This biographical show also put the spotlight on what we do day in and out at Al Di La, our focus on sustainability and so much more.”
Chef Anirban Dasgupta explains that Al Di La started in December 2021 and the restaurant has recently turned two years old—and promises there is a lot more to come in the times ahead. “Al Di La takes its food very seriously and in 2024 the restaurant, along with the chefs team has envisioned to take the food into an innovative space, a road less travelled in Pune,” he says. “I would also to take a pause and give due credit to my commander in chief at Al Di La kitchen, Chef Tapas Manna, who needs to be applauded for the immense effort he along with the rest of the team puts together to bring the element of innovation to the fore and, of course, keep up with my constant push for excellence.”
The Making Of A Chef: Kolkata To Pune
Apart from capturing what Al Di La stands for, Gods of Gourmet also shed light on the interesting journey Chef Anirban Dasgupta has had from Bengal to Maharashtra via a number of reputed institutions in between. “My culinary background is defined by my upbringing in a food-centric city called Kolkata, which I also term as the sweetest part of the country in many senses,” he says. “Cooking happened early, although not intentionally but more so due to needs when I used to peep into the kitchen to whip up breakfast for myself and my brother mostly. Hotel management was an accidental choice, something destined to happen I felt afterwards, so was Italian cooking which is my core competency.”
As a Bengali man cooking Italian cuisine, that too regional delicacies that Indians only comfortable with fusion pizzas and pastas would never have heard of, Chef Anirban Dasgupta believes this cuisine has a lot in common with the Indian food aesthetic. “Over the last 22 years I have travelled 14 cities across India to find my real calling in food, Italian with a definitive voice of my own expressed through my local roots and love for artisanal Indian produce,” he says. “As chefs we are all in some way or the other expected to bring in the impact, and I believe I have done reasonable work along with my fellow chefs by encouraging produce and producers from my motherland to shine in my dishes.”
But when it comes specifically to the city of Pune, Chef Anirban Dasgupta says that the food scene here has evolved over time, and for the better. “Pune has grown leaps and bounds over the past six plus years I have been part of this city. Gone are the days of only pubs and beer spaces,” he quips. “Now the diaspora has experimental spaces which evoke emotions, food that surprises and beverage that push the boundaries. It’s truly on the verge of arriving and taking on the relatively bigger cities and it’s a great time to be in the midst of this revolution.”