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Crafting Culinary Experiences through Bengali Cuisines

Sonali Chatterji embodies the essence of culinary excellence as the Director and Chief Curator of Paanch Phoran and Exotisch Global Cuisines. Her journey is a testament to the fusion of passion and expertise, seamlessly blending her love for cooking with her profound understanding of Bengali cuisines. With a keen eye for detail and a dedication to preserving authenticity, Sonali curates a culinary experience that transcends boundaries, drawing inspiration from the aristocratic lineages, humble homes, and bustling streets of Bengal.

Over the past seven years, Sonali’s culinary prowess has garnered widespread acclaim, earning her numerous awards and accolades from the gastronomic world. Her collaborations with renowned five-star hotels have elevated the art of Bengali cuisine, enchanting diners with flavors that resonate with tradition yet embrace innovation.

Despite a successful career spanning three decades as an interior designer, Sonali’s passion for cooking beckoned her to embark on a new culinary adventure. Seven years ago, she embraced this calling wholeheartedly, igniting a journey that has been nothing short of transformative.

At the recent National Conference on Innovation and Entrepreneurship & Startup Summit held at IIT Delhi, Sonali’s contributions to the culinary landscape were recognized with the esteemed “Woman Entrepreneur of the Year” award. In an exclusive interaction with The Interview World, she shares insights into her culinary ventures, Paanch Phoran and Exotisch Global Cuisines, outlining her ambitious vision to conquer the Indian market and beyond.

Q: What specific activities does your startup engage in, and what products or services does it offer?

A: Embarking on the journey of entrepreneurship, I launched Paanch Phoran and Exotisch Global Cuisines as home catering ventures. Gradually, these startups evolved, blossoming into establishments with spacious kitchens capable of serving 500 to 1000 people simultaneously. Our entrepreneurial voyage commenced in 2015 from the vibrant city of Gurugram, where we faced myriad challenges inherent in the business world.

Despite being a trained architect and interior designer by profession, my heart lies in the culinary arts. Exotisch Global Cuisines boasts a diverse array of international delicacies, while Paanch Phoran is devoted to celebrating the flavors of Bengali cuisine. My fervent desire is to share the rich tapestry of Bengali gastronomy with enthusiasts worldwide, igniting their palates with its unique and delectable offerings.

Q: What specific challenges, obstacles, or pain points are currently impeding the success and growth of your business?

A: Starting as an entrepreneur or launching a startup comes with numerous hurdles. Finance stands out as a pivotal challenge. I’m solely reliant on my investment to drive my venture forward.

Our profession experiences distinct seasonal fluctuations. From September to March, demand peaks as we diligently cater to our clients. However, come April, activity slows, and the months of June, July, and August prove particularly sluggish. Maintaining operations during these periods poses considerable difficulty, especially with overhead costs like staff salaries and rentals.

To weather these fluctuations, it’s imperative to achieve a certain level of revenue during peak seasons to sustain the business through leaner months. Additionally, fierce competition further intensifies the landscape.

Staffing presents its own set of challenges. Recruiting suitable personnel, particularly in an industry predominantly staffed by men, poses hurdles. There’s resistance among some male employees to work under female leadership.

While I’m accustomed to burning the midnight oil, the nature of our business and its late hours limits the number of female staff I can employ. Despite these challenges, I remain committed to overcoming them and driving my venture forward.

Q: What strategies do you employ to stay ahead of your competitors?

A: To maintain a competitive edge, it’s imperative to continuously innovate our offerings. This entails meticulous attention to handling, ensuring top-notch quality and appropriate quantities, and enticingly presenting them. The significance of presentation cannot be overstated, as it dictates the initial perception of our products. We eat first with our eyes, and only then do other sensory experiences follow. Hence, it’s paramount to tailor our efforts towards captivating presentation. By prioritizing this aspect, we can effectively engage our audience and leave a lasting impression, setting ourselves apart from the competition and ensuring sustained success in the market.

Q: What is the overarching vision you have for the future development and growth of your startup?

A: Indeed, I have clear intentions to broaden my catering services beyond the confines of Delhi-NCR. I aspire to elevate my business to a nationwide scale. Presently, I’ve successfully extended operations beyond Delhi and NCR, venturing into another state. This recent progress fuels my optimism, instilling confidence that further expansion is imminent. Each step forward reaffirms my commitment to reaching a broader audience and delivering exceptional catering experiences. With diligent planning and strategic execution, I anticipate realizing my long-term vision of establishing a presence throughout India. Exciting opportunities lie ahead as I embark on this journey of growth and development.

Nolen Gur Sandesh - An Exclusive Sweet Treat by Paanch Phoran
Nolen Gur Sandesh – An Exclusive Sweet Treat by Paanch Phoran


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