Ananya Banerjee - Natural Talent Always Helps (Chef from India with 148K+ followers)


Home cooking is all about love, warmth & nurturing. You are cooking for your loved ones & dear ones. So,  love, care, and nurturing, are the key elements in home cooking. You innovate all the time, there are no guidelines. 

1. Tell us about your background and journey. 

I belong to an orthodox family of lawyers and judges and I also studied law as my family wanted me to continue with the family tradition. I realized soon that I am not cut out for this profession and gave up practicing. 

Art was always my first love along with food. Coming back to my career path, after a brief stint in the corridors of the courts I took to paintings. 
And it was a satisfying second innings if I may say! 

I enjoyed thoroughly doing what I always wanted to do. My paintings had been showcased in many prestigious art galleries in India & all over the world including Paris. 

Alongside I started cooking commercially in a small way and the venture was successful. So, I seriously wanted to get into this profession which you can say is the third & the last phase of my career. 

Though initially I was not trained formally while in Germany for a few years, I attended a few cooking courses and worked with a few top chefs in Europe. And I learned a lot during my stay there. 

Not only cooking but also the art of plating, service etiquettes, inventory management & many other aspects that transforms a cook into a chef. So, you see my journey has been long and satisfying. I am doing what I always wanted to do and enjoying every moment.

2. What led you to take up this career path?

I think I have already answered this question. Passion is what drove me into this profession and the passion is not random but it is my calling.

3. What does your typical day look like?

It would be very difficult to describe a typical day as my work is so varied. My calendar is always full and I have to adhere to that…. It includes food festivals, restaurant reviews, shooting et all. It changes every day. The only thing that is constant on my calendar is my team meeting every morning. Generally, I keep long hours and end up my day by 2 am. 

4. Does one's approach change when cooking professionally and at home?

Home cooking is all about love, warmth & nurturing. You are cooking for your loved ones & dear ones. So,  love, care, and nurturing, are the key elements in home cooking. You innovate all the time, there are no guidelines. 

While commercial cooking is all about consistency, adhering to the laid-down recipes & always keeping commercial success in mind. In commercial cooking, your approach is already defined and you cook the same thing with the same ingredients day in and day out. 

5. Is there a dish you particularly associate yourself with?

Oh, there are so many actually.  but if I have to name just one then it would be Maacher Ganga Jamuna,  my Mom’s recipe for a Bengali fish curry. 

6. Can cooking be learned at culinary schools or a natural talent is required?

Natural talent always helps, not only in cooking but in all professions. As cooking is a day-to-day affair some cook with passion and some take it as a daily chore.
The talented ones would innovate and try to cook new dishes for their family. 

The culinary school definitely helps them to hone their skills and take them to a higher level. As in culinary schools, they learn a lot of additional skills and make them ready for a rewarding career in commercial kitchens. 

For example, cooking for a commercial kitchen is one thing, and cooking for a flight kitchen is another. Training always helps. 

They learn a lot and decide on a career path with a professional approach.

7. Which is your favorite book and why?

Well, it is another tough question to answer. There are so many. But I will tell you about 2 books that have influenced me a lot and I learned a lot too. The first one is called Prasad by Jiggs Kalra and the second is about French cuisine called Larousse Gastronomy. They are like the greatest culinary encyclopedias.

Brief Bio:

Ananya Banerjee, ex-Editor of BBC Good Food India is a Food curator & consultant. She is a YouTuber, Recipe Developer, Food & Travel Blogger. She has authored two highly popular cookbooks – Planet Global – 100 most popular global recipes & Bangla Gastronomy – the journey of Bengali Food. She was awarded The Celebrity Chef of the Year 2018 (Female) at the FoodFood TV Awards.


Interviewed By - Anshika Garg

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