Chef Debasish Kundu is a bundle of talents – a Master Chef who is a class of his own, an entrepreneur par excellence, and a photographer of rare expertise, whose pictures (of the culinary delights that he rustles up with his trademark elan) are no less appetising than the dishes themselves.
“There is a certain romance in photographing food” says Debasish “and the best pictures are those that engage your senses – what you see with your eyes, should fill your heart with the aroma, making you want to feel its texture, hear the sound of its sizzle and then induce you to taste it in its full flavour.” Photographing food, to Debasish, is no less engaging (or challenging) than working with live models – “each dish is special, each relates to you on a different level, each has its own characteristic flavour, idiosyncrasies” says Debasish.
“Food photography is indeed hard work.But when you see the pictures, tempting as they are, flirting with your soul, all the hard work becomes worth it. You know, a well fed,satisfied customer has a look of satiated containment on the face – something that the Chef in me has learnt to identify after all these years in the industry. It is that look, which is our biggest accolade, the highest honour that we crave for. I guess, the foodie in me exhibits that look, when I look at a picture that transcends everything, even time.”
Debasish is extremely weary of using the term “dish”, even as I draw parallels between exotic food and and plain vanilla model photography. “The term has a pejorative ring about it that I dislike” he says, but warms up to the topic none the less. “Photographs of some dishes are elegance personified, even stately in their being. While some others are playful, full of the energy of youth. Some are flirty, coquettish; while some others are sombre, detached. Yes, I view food as people, with all their uniqueness, each different from the other.”
You have read his columns. You have seen his work as a food packaging expert peep at you fro innumerable packs and advertisements. You have tasted his obviously awesome creations. Now for a sample of his frozen food (no pun intended)!
After almost two decades in The Park (by which time he had graduated all the way up to the position of a Sous-Chef), celebrity Chef-dom, status of a selector in the East Indian leg of TLC’s cult programme Master Chef India, recognition as a food stylist and the launch of his Boutique Restaurant Fish Fish – Debasish is now giving final shape to his signature line of Frozen Foods when not rustling up ambrosia or writing his hugely popular columns in the first Bengali glossy on all matters gastronomic – Hangla Hneshel.
*all pics courtesy Debasish Kundu