Books and Beyond with Bound

5.17 Gauri Devidayal & Vishwas Kulkarni: Unveiling Bombay’s F&B Industry

May 02, 2023 Bound Podcasts Season 5 Episode 17
5.17 Gauri Devidayal & Vishwas Kulkarni: Unveiling Bombay’s F&B Industry
Books and Beyond with Bound
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Books and Beyond with Bound
5.17 Gauri Devidayal & Vishwas Kulkarni: Unveiling Bombay’s F&B Industry
May 02, 2023 Season 5 Episode 17
Bound Podcasts

Discover the terrifyingly exciting world of the Food & Beverages industry in Bombay!

Join Tara and Michelle in conversation with Gauri Devidayal and Vishwas Kulkarni as they talk about their new self-published book “Diamonds for Breakfast,” which reflects upon the joy and pain of starting a restaurant. How did they sustain their business during Covid 19? What is the process of self-publishing like? What is the cost of following one’s passion? Can a book work towards building brand visibility?

Tune in to find out!

Books mentioned in this episode:

  • Kitchen Confidential by Anthony Bourdain
  •  Unreasonable Hospitality by
  • You’ll Never Eat Lunch in this Town Again by Julia Phillips
  • Bittersweet Lessons of my Mother’s Kitchen
  • Degh to Dastarkhwan by Tarana Khan Hussain
  •  Classic Concurrent Cookbook by Jyotsana Shahana
  • Iraqi Table by Robert al Safi
  • My Heart is a Chainsaw by Stephen Graham Jones

Produced by Aishwarya Javalgekar
Sound edit by Kshitij Jadhav

‘Books and Beyond with Bound’ is the podcast where Tara Khandelwal and Michelle D’costa uncover how their books reflect the realities of our lives and society today. Find out what drives India’s finest authors: from personal experiences to jugaad research methods, insecurities to publishing journeys. Created by Bound, a storytelling company that helps you grow through stories. Follow us @boundindia on all social media platforms.

Show Notes Transcript

Discover the terrifyingly exciting world of the Food & Beverages industry in Bombay!

Join Tara and Michelle in conversation with Gauri Devidayal and Vishwas Kulkarni as they talk about their new self-published book “Diamonds for Breakfast,” which reflects upon the joy and pain of starting a restaurant. How did they sustain their business during Covid 19? What is the process of self-publishing like? What is the cost of following one’s passion? Can a book work towards building brand visibility?

Tune in to find out!

Books mentioned in this episode:

  • Kitchen Confidential by Anthony Bourdain
  •  Unreasonable Hospitality by
  • You’ll Never Eat Lunch in this Town Again by Julia Phillips
  • Bittersweet Lessons of my Mother’s Kitchen
  • Degh to Dastarkhwan by Tarana Khan Hussain
  •  Classic Concurrent Cookbook by Jyotsana Shahana
  • Iraqi Table by Robert al Safi
  • My Heart is a Chainsaw by Stephen Graham Jones

Produced by Aishwarya Javalgekar
Sound edit by Kshitij Jadhav

‘Books and Beyond with Bound’ is the podcast where Tara Khandelwal and Michelle D’costa uncover how their books reflect the realities of our lives and society today. Find out what drives India’s finest authors: from personal experiences to jugaad research methods, insecurities to publishing journeys. Created by Bound, a storytelling company that helps you grow through stories. Follow us @boundindia on all social media platforms.

Gauri Devidayal  00:04

Learning from this whole business that I would say to someone who wants to get into it is that, do it with a bag full of money that you are ready to completely lose. That's when you really are able to do something amazing.



Welcome to Books and Beyond with bound. I'm Tara canderel.


Michelle D'costa  00:26

I am Michelle D'costa.


Tara Khandelwal  00:28

And in this podcast, we uncover the stories behind some of the best written books of our time,


Michelle D'costa  00:35

and find out how these books that reflect our lives and our society today.


Tara Khandelwal  00:39

So tune in every Wednesday to enter a whole new world with a new author and a new idea. Yes,


Michelle D'costa  00:47

and after three years and 2 million listens, we are back with our factories and five


Tara Khandelwal  00:54

with hard hitting questions and life changing books. So let's dive in. Hi, everyone, welcome to Books and Beyond. So today is a very exciting episode because if you are a fully or an entrepreneur, or a Bombay person, or anybody with a big dream to make it big in the city of dreams, then you are in the right place because we are speaking to a woman who has made it in an industry she had no clue about and she has mastered it. And now she's written this amazing book called diamonds for breakfast with wish fast Kulkarni and this book has taken us inside the belly of India's hottest kitchens, into the restaurants that we really really love. I think they are Bombay institutions, the table, my street kitchen, my Street Cafe. And the book is called diamonds for breakfast, Gauri, the analysis CA by training and she calls herself the accidental co founder of the Food Matters group. And Vishwas Kulkarni is a graduate of Bard College. And he has been writing Bombay stories for over two decades. And they have actually collaborated and written this book. And what is very interesting for us is that it's not only a bold view into the ups and downs of the f&b industry, but it's actually our first time interviewing two co writers. And it's our first time interviewing a book that has been self published. So that is also very interesting for us, as well as interviewer. So welcome to the podcast guardian, which fast.


Gauri Devidayal  02:28

Thank you.


Michelle D'costa  02:30

Thank you. Yes, really excited. You know, and just to give context to our listeners, so I have a very special bond with the f&b industry, because my father has been in the industry for over 30 to 40 years, I knew all the ups and downs. But then, you know, reading the book was a sort of validation of that, you know, I always felt like, Okay, is it just my dad going through all of this, but when I read the book, I, you know, felt validated. So I just enjoyed it, I loved it. So but more than a food book, I would, you know, actually call this a Bombay book, you know, and I, you know, though I've, we've always been in Bombay, we weren't really here, because, you know, we were in the Middle East. And when I came back to Bombay, I've been, you know, actively seeking out books, which kind of, you know, talk about the culture. And I realized that this book does it so well, because it kind of captures this changing economy of Bombay, you know, from 2008. And it also shows us, you know, your relationship with Bombay, I really, you know, wanted to know about what is the genesis of the book, you know, a little bit about your background, and a little bit about your own relationship with Bombay.


Gauri Devidayal  03:37

Thank you again, for having Vishwas and me on the show, and, yes, this book has been quite the ride. So it started actually, because in 2019, we were thinking about what to do for our 10 year anniversary of the table, which was in Jan 20. And just to go back a little bit, my husband Jay and I started this restaurant in 2011. And we didn't really know anything about the f&b industry at all other than Jay having a sort of semi midlife crisis and saying, I want to open a restaurant, which is what a lot of people do. And that's probably the worst way to to get into this business. But here we are. And so yeah, it was a very momentous time for us to commemorate 10 years of the restaurant. And you people have always said to us, oh, why don't you publish a cookbook, and you know, it's such an institute and people love the food. You know, it's about time you do a cookbook, and neither Jay and I are chefs. We love food, but we're not chefs. And so if I had to do a cookbook, I wouldn't really know where to start. And but the idea of doing a book was something that did interest me a lot because I felt that obviously over the last 10 years, we've collected so many stories and a lot of People, you know, think this is a very glamorous business, but don't really know what goes on behind the scenes. And so that's when the idea sort of first, you know, came up that, hey, look, why don't we do a book, but not a cookbook, but a more of a storytelling of this journey to commemorate the 10 years, and Vishwas is someone I've known since before we got into this business. And, you know, I just moved back to Bombay and met Vishwas. And so he's kind of seen the process from inception, and, of course, dying there, and, you know, being a part of it in various different ways, which we will get into. And, of course, since he's a writer, and I'm not, he's a professional writer, I thought, you know, I would reach out to him and see if he was interested. And that's kind of how this whole thing started off. And, of course, very quickly, we realized that there is no book happening in six months. So it did take us a little longer than that to finally publish it. But yeah, that's how it started out.


Vishwas Kulkarni  06:02

Yeah. And I just wanted to add, like, you know, sometimes when you start a book like me, we're so excited that Oh, my God, in six months, we will hit the 10 year anniversary. But the process to writing diamonds for breakfast was a lot more circuitous than that COVID happened, a lot of other things happened. And I think Goring and Jay were very clear that they wanted everyone's perspective, not just theirs. But the staff that made this iconic restaurant happened. So that also led to many new perspectives. And as a result of which we were nowhere close to a six month deadline. But we hopefully have come out with a richer book than we imagined at the start of the journey.


Michelle D'costa  06:43

Oh, there was a six month deadline. Wow.


Vishwas Kulkarni  06:46

Imagined six.


Michelle D'costa  06:50

Yeah, the ideal.


Gauri Devidayal  06:52

You can tell we both first time based on that alone.


Michelle D'costa  06:57

No, I can imagine because the thing is, you know, since it's a collaborative process, I imagine it will take longer, because you know, if a person is on their own, and if it's just their ideas, probably six months would work. But then I can imagine a collab would probably take longer, or I don't know, maybe it takes shorter. I think Tara and I have been wanting to write a book since long. So that's something you know, we'd have to figure out firsthand as well. But I think everybody


Vishwas Kulkarni  07:21

has a certain process and I think Gauri and I are together realize that, oh my god, this process is a little more complicated than we imagined. Like, when we started, we just, I literally came back with reams and reams and reams of interviews. And it would largely be transcriptions of just Jay Gauri and me yakking sometimes we'd be talking rubbish, sometimes we'd be laughing, sometimes real stories would come through, you know, and that's when I realized that, hey, this is going to take a little longer.


Gauri Devidayal  07:49

I think also, you know, we, at least for me, this wasn't the only thing I was doing. So it was something that we were coming back and forth to when I think, honestly, you know, even before COVID, it was for us to understand how to present this narrative, without it just being, you know, a chronology of events, you know, just literally putting down what happened year after year, because that wasn't something that really excited us. And so I think it just took us a while as well to figure out how we wanted to convey the story. And like Vishwa said, it wasn't intended to be, you know, a biography or as he loves to say, hagiography ambitious, you can explain what that is, for everybody. But, you know, it wasn't intended to just be about Jay and me and our journey, but really, to give a very fun, but real insight into the many people that it takes to run a business like this. So I think just that idea of what of how to put this across, you know, fun way, but interesting way, and not just make it a book for the industry, with something that I think evolved over time. And of course, as events unfold with COVID, etc, it all added fodder for the book. But that's sort of why I think we underestimated how long it would actually take to put this together.


Tara Khandelwal  09:17

Yeah, and you know, I love like the inside view of the restaurant industry, I want to get into sort of like the meat of the book, because, as you said, people always think that, oh, you know, running a restaurant, or it must be very glamorous with all of the amazing people that you must be meeting every day and you must be eating some really good food every day. But they always say that, you know, if you want to take revenge on someone, you should have to start a restaurant and I think what both of you have done is you've been very honest, in sort of the challenges that it takes to set up food empires you have from finding the right location and the beginning and all of those hurdles which you to talk about, you know, from finding the right location to nothing working out to employees leaving to difficult guests, and we have so many questions about that as well. But before that, you know, I really like the beginning of the book and how you started the book. You know, I think one thread in the book is that it's very sort of vulnerable and honest. And you spoke about how you had quit your job at PWC. And you had come back to Bombay and you were floundering around, and then you met your husband, gee, you know, there is an age difference between you guys, and then how y'all sort of started working on the restaurant together? So could you tell us a little bit more about how it's been for you as well, in terms of so when you must have first started out the background is so very different from working in this industry that must have sort of, like, you know, coming from a world of order, and, you know, accounting, and all of those things go into the startup world and not to restaurant business? So


Gauri Devidayal  10:58

I think, you know, you're absolutely right, it doesn't, it makes no sense to anyone as to why we got into this. And not just me, I mean, Jay, as well, with no background and f&b. And, you know, he was a techie from San Francisco, just the biggest cliche and so not groomed in any shape or form to open a restaurant. But I think my involvement was triggered by my background, which is in legal and finance, and I was supposed to be just helping out with that aspect of, you know, setting up the company, whatever, incorporating it, setting up bank accounts, reviewing legal documents, etc. And that was supposed to be a, you know, I had my job with PwC, pretty much right up to when the restaurant opened. And it was just something that was happening, that the whole project was sort of brewing in our living room. And I couldn't kind of not be, you don't have one year to the ground as far as the project was concerned. And I just found myself getting more and more involved. Obviously, Jay was asking for my feedback on a lot of things. And, and yeah, and eventually, it just became, it came to a point where it was almost like having two full time jobs, and which was not manageable. And so I decided to take a very calculated risk of taking a year off. And, you know, worst case, I would have gone back to my job. And of course, now that's ended up being a 12 year sabbatical. But it was a very sort of thought through decision that yes, we were both jumping into something completely new to to both of us. But, you know, that's I think the first learning from this whole business that I would say to someone who wants to get into it is that, do it with a bag full of money that you are ready to completely lose. Because the nature of this business, it's a very risky industry to get into. And it's a very expensive and capital intensive business. So you know, you have to be willing to if you want to take that chance, you have to be willing to lose everything. And that's when you really are able to do something amazing, because you are mentally prepared as well to lose it all. I think sometimes when your whole life depends on it, and make decisions that aren't necessarily right for the business, because you do it under a lot of pressure. So I think that's actually the first thing that I would say, but the book was never intended to be like a list of you know, how to open a restaurant 101 guide, or, you know, a list of lessons or anything, it was really just about sharing our story, and you take what you want from it. And I think Vishwas you know, had a really interesting idea of how to start the story, right? So the shots, you want to sort of explain that process.


Vishwas Kulkarni  13:51

I mean, I just love it when characters meet made narrative. And so Tara and Michelle, when you will see your love the way the story started with to heartbreak, so to speak. I found it very interesting that two people from very disparate backgrounds could just find themselves ashore, literally ashore, in this Robinson cruiser kind of way in this crazy city that we call Bombay, and try to start, you know, start fresh, and then things just happen. And one of the reasons I think that the book became, so to speak, not just an f&b book, but a Bombay history book is that it started with the two personal histories of its protagonists, but then it moves on to the larger story of how the city itself is. And that excited me a lot when I first met Gary and Jay about the book. And I was like, let's start with this because that's also how I knew that. That's at least how I knew Gordy when she first came to Bombay. And I was like, okay, that's the body that start with where I first met you when that will perhaps be the best way to start a collaboration.


Gauri Devidayal  14:53

What's interesting about Bombay since you, you know, bring that up and you both mentioned that, you know, this this book is as much about bye Um, bit, Bombay can be brutal. It's, you know, a real hardest place to start any business. You know, it was at a time when opportunities sort of abounded, there was so much opportunity, and it does sort of welcome you. I am from Bombay, you know, born and brought up in Bombay, but Jay was a newcomer as good as a newcomer to the city. And I think it embraced him as much as it made life difficult for him. So I think we have this love hate relationship with Bombay, that is something that maybe comes across in the book as well. So, you know, it's as much about the city and its people as it is about the business.


Tara Khandelwal  15:41

Yeah, absolutely. I think that's what you know, is so interesting about the way that the book was written. And because of the decisions that were made, you know, you mentioned the decision of starting with the heartbreak. And then we have so much of the history of Bombay, as well, we have inside view of the restaurant, we have your personalities. So I think you brought that together really well. And I think we all do have a love hate relationship of Bombay, you know, I'm from Bombay through so I think we all do have that. And one thing I really think we were commenting on is the title, we absolutely love the title diamonds for breakfast. And when Michelle and I were discussing, we were like, Oh, that diamonds for breakfast is so sort of like South Bombay in a way. So one question I had is, how did you come up with the title. Another thing that we were really interested in is the self publishing aspect of it. Because, you know, we work with a lot of writers, and we work with a lot of sort of business leaders as well who want to get their books published. And I think there is sort of this view that, you know, one must have that brand name of a penguin or a HarperCollins in order to give the book legitimacy. And of course, we've seen that sort of changing with people who already have a large audience like a Pooja Dhingra. And even you have a very large audience, you know, on your social media, you have your own podcast, but I still want to know what made both of you decide that you know, we will not go the traditional route and we will self publish the book.


Vishwas Kulkarni  17:16

So basically, diamonds for breakfast came initially, we had a very working technical feeding the glitterati and both gory, I love it. Got no one gory and my editor, we had a fantastic editor called Nilanjan anarch. Pereira and both of them were quite clear that this is a working title. So at one point, when it came to deciding diamonds for breakfast, I remember my mom would buy me vinyls from rhythm house when I was a kid in the late 70s, early 80s. And one of the vinyls she had bought me was one of my favorite songs called fabulous level. And the album name was diamonds for breakfast. But I only discovered that like, years later, when I looked it up on YouTube, you know, nowadays, people look up things on YouTube to be like, Oh, my God, what was that song I loved in 1981, there was just this album called diamonds for breakfast. And it fit in really well with the sort of book we were writing, which was about South Bombay, this really funky restaurant, and it just sort of encapsulated everything we wanted to say, you know?


Gauri Devidayal  18:18

Yeah, I mean, when Vishwas sort of suggested the title, we were all like, that's it. That's the one so it felt right, you know, coming to your publishing or self publishing rather question, you're absolutely right, that does feel the initial sort of thoughts are always to work with, you know, a publishing house and, you know, have the leverage of that brand. But I actually, you know, spoke to a lot of people before making this decision. And it was a very sort of considered decision that we ended up making on the basis that when you do have an existing brand, and you have, you know, a distribution sort of capability, because that's the other part of it, right? Like, just like publicizing and marketing, the book is one thing, but then the ability to distribute it as well is is something that you need to have before you make that decision to Self Publish. You know, Tara, you're right. I mean, I've known sort of been in this world long enough to know how it's sort of evolved. But you're right, that today, what you're really looking for from a publisher is reach and access. And if you are able to do that to a large extent for yourself, then perhaps it's the more commercially viable route to take. That's sort of in a nutshell, why we decided to do this and, you know, I in fact, I had spoken to Pooja as well who had done her first book with a publisher, but then she just found that there was a lot more freedom. And if she was going to invest in you know, in her case, food photography, and all of that, you know, recipe testing, things like that. There is sort of, you know, sometimes a big investment in writing books, or that maybe it's something that you You know, do for yourself and you reap the rewards as well when it does well. So that was the thought process. And, you know, it's not to say that publishing houses are redundant or, you know, don't have any sort of weight anymore, but it really actually depends more on you went also, we had a fantastic editor, and Alana, you know, that's the other sort of benefit of working with a publishing house is that, you know, you have that editorial support as well, but because we sort of had identified somebody to work with, again, that was not something that needed from a publishing house. So it just made sense for me to do it as a self published book.


Tara Khandelwal  20:41

Yeah, absolutely. What you said about, you know, having your own distribution and your own brand, because that's a lot of what the publishing house, you know, adds to a person who is writing a book, what we are seeing is we help a lot of sort of writers, you know, use books to build their personal brand. You know, you are someone who already has a very big personal brand. So how did the book fit into that strategy of yours in growing your brand? And do you think that it actually, you know, has given you certain results that you might not have had if you're not published it?


Gauri Devidayal  21:13

So I think that writing a book is 100%, a great brand extension, you know, whether it's for an individual or whether it's for a business, in our case, we clearly were doing this for our business. I think when we went into it, like I said, the idea was to commemorate 10 years of the restaurant. And so it was clearly intended from a business perspective. And of course, as being the co author it, it does add to my personal brand as well. The important thing is that, yes, you can write a book, you can have it out there, you want people to read it, right? You want people to sort of enjoy the story that you're telling. And I think, While anyone can self publish today, you know, I think writing an interesting narrative is equally important to adding to your sort of brand value. So it's not just about having a title there and saying, Oh, I'm an author, you also want to get people to read it. So one part of it is deciding to is that you see value in having a book amongst your sort of various accolades. But it's also about how you write in. And I know that a lot of people use ghost writers for that purpose. I didn't want to pretend to be a writer. So there wasn't any need for me to put this forward as having a ghost writer. And we wanted it to be sort of open that I'd worked with a writer on this. So I think the purpose behind doing it and then the execution is equally important. If you're looking at this as a way to enhance your personal or business brand.


Vishwas Kulkarni  22:52

For instance, it's as important to like sort of, yes, a book can extend your brand. I mean, the execution is as important. And I think at one point, while we were going through reams and reams and reams of material, it was very important that if it's exciting to me, while I'm writing it on to Gauri, while she's writing it, it will perhaps be exciting for the reader. And I think that approach is quite important when you're anyone is writing a book, you know, in their brand on their life, or whatever that aspect has to be kept in mind. Because at the end of the day, when you're running a business, all the details will be available. But eventually, what you choose to keep aside, and what you choose to keep in the book is what makes the book


Gauri Devidayal  23:31

just to add to that and kind of draw an analogy with, with our actual business, which is restaurants, they say that the real test of whether you are happy with the outcome of your restaurant, or you think that you've done a successful job is if you can dine in your own restaurant every single day. And I think that's a similar sort of thought process with the book as well is that if you can read it again and again, and you know, laugh or cry or be moved by it in any way, you know, every time you read it, I think that's the sign of a great story. And that needs to come across regardless of the purpose of the book, right, whether it's meant to be a brand building exercise or not. So I think that is actually the crux of it. And we also had this dilemma I remember about like, oh, is the book long enough? Is it at some point? I think we both were very Underland, you know, we were both we were all very comfortable that you know, it's not about length, it's not about bulk. It just has to feel right. Be long enough to capture your attention and hold you enthralled and that was it and especially when you're writing about an industry that is niche right at the end of the day, yes, we all eat we all go out to eat and food isn't an integral part of everyone's life, but it is it is a niche industry. It's not something that everyone is interested in necessarily and yet you have to make it in distinct everybody.


Michelle D'costa  25:01

Yeah, that is definitely a challenge, right? Like, how do you make it accessible to the audience? And, you know, one feeling that I had when reading your book was, you know how your family must have reacted? Reading it, because you've been so vulnerable. Right? You know, you talk about the heartbreak, you talk about the ups and downs, which is it's very real. And then we also learned that your sister is a writer Namita. David. So I'm really curious to know, you know, what did that relationship, you know, turn out to be like, while you were writing this book, and what is the feedback that you received from your family? Were they like bits that they were not aware of before?


Gauri Devidayal  25:36

Okay, so this is a, this was a huge, while maybe, or maybe not. So, boy, the cause of when we finally finished the manuscript, I mean, I met Vishwas, through my sister Namita. And so this was always a big dilemma for us as to whether we wanted the other writer in our lives to read the book before it went into print. And actually, we decided that to no one in my family actually read the book, other than my other sister Archana, who's designed it. So obviously, she had to read it through to do that. But nobody else in the family read the book before it went into print. And it was a very conscious decision that, you know, you can keep seeking validation from everyone around you, or you sort of really believe in what you've done and put it out there. And, you know, let the cards fall where they may. So, but after they did read it, I've had, I think it's safe to say, only positive feedback. And I mean, there was surprises, that, I mean, there were things that they didn't know about before reading the book, but not so much about, obviously, my personal life, that pretty much is an open book, no pun intended to them. But as far as some of the incidents in the restaurants and things they didn't know about that before they read it. So I think it was a fun ride for them, too.


Tara Khandelwal  27:00

Yeah, I really like that. Both you and Vishwas have decided to sort of go write this book, because as you said, you know, people even choose to co write books, and then you know, we actually to provide ghost writing. So that case, you know, the celebrity is sort of, you know, using a ghostwriter to put the book forward. And there is this new trend. And I really like that of sort of like CO writing books, or even having the ghostwriter sort of be on the face of the cover, like in Prince Harry's book. I also wanted to know, what was the process? Was it sort of like, you know, you Vishwas? And you already knew each other from the beginning? Or was it that you spoke to a few other writers? Did you sort of conceptualize the book together? Or did you sort of, you know, have a chapter outline that you went with? So what was sort of the involvement? And the reason that I'm asking is also because, you know, the story is very much galleries? So I also want to know, you know, how did the crafting of the story take place with the both of you in it?


Gauri Devidayal  28:04

So when Jay and I were thinking about this, literally, the only person we could think of to do this with was Vishwas. So there was no vetting of people or any of that process? It was going to be with him? Or probably not at all. There's a couple of reasons. One is obviously, like I said, he'd been part of our journey. You know, he'd known us for 10 years, by that time, and knew us knew a lot about the restaurant was a patron of the restaurant. So understood the business that we will be talking about, you know, he's a journalist who's covered people culture, pop culture, and that was meant to be the sort of tonality of this book as well. So and I think most importantly, was it you know, we are on a similar wavelength when it comes to you know, whether it's a sense of humor, whether it's, we you know, make fun off or don't make fun off I think we just thought very aligned, which may or may not be a good thing like that, but for me, it just seemed like the perfect fit. So there was no question of it was an evolving process as to how it you know, what we finally picked and chose to include in the book, but it was just a lot of discussion. I think, you know, for Vishwas also, this is the first time


Vishwas Kulkarni  29:22

Yeah, so basically guys when Gauri first approached me, I was firstly extremely touched where I was the only choice It was a big boost for me. I was in the midst of a screenplay with Lionsgate then. And it just seemed like a very exciting project to take on just a sort of like commission project to write about the table. Because the brand itself comes with a lot of stories. You'll have read all those crazy stories that come with it. And the other thing I found with God, he was a very reasonable voice is as if you've come up with an idea. There was a certain openness, there was none of that like I'm the entrepreneur, you This is my story. It's my way of the IV, I just knew that was not going to happen. Just knowing that personalities, I think that's how we just came to this sort of very organic, let's be co authors. Let's put this story out there. As I said, we also brought in an editor who was my right hand editor from my days at Mumbai Mirror when I was the entertainment editor. And so the three of us became this really cozy team. And I don't know it, it was just it's just been a very, very, very pleasurable ride.


Gauri Devidayal  30:28

Yeah, there was a lot of debate. I don't doubt that, you know, there was a lot of sort of back and forth, you know, and but I think overall, there was just a an alignment of style and minds, which is, I think, most important, and also, coming back to that idea of this being a brand building exercise. To me, it was a clear it was the brand is the business, not me. And I think when we were able to kind of agree on that and move forward. It was great fun. Most importantly, I have to keep reminding, which was that this was, I still had a business to run. And this was not going to be this was not supposed to be like a tabloid diary. Yeah, it was not, it was not like, you know, I had to be like, very mindful of the fact that, you know, people could either identify themselves in it, or, you know, or not, and we had a business to continue running. So it's actually it may not come across a Rena city, but it was a very nuanced story of people, the city and this industry.


Michelle D'costa  31:38

Yeah, no, that does come across, actually, you know, the fact that you really focus on the challenges of starting up something, right, because we often hear of okay, like, how glamorous it is, to start up something, it sounds so cool. But then it's actually really tough to do so. So for me, you know, the most interesting part of the book was, you know, just hearing about how difficult it was to secure a location, right? Like, where would the restaurant be, and I really liked that you detail that out? Right? So for example, from, you know, finding a location, let's say, you know, in the World Trade Center, something that was booming and buzzing with business back in 2008. And then to only be you know, thwarted because somebody wanted a big bribe, like, my god, you know, like, who would even imagine from that then to looking for different locations, and then the hurdle just kept coming and coming and coming. And I said, Oh, my God, you know, how much can you test a person? I think, for me, the the challenges of starting up something really, really came across, you know, very vividly in the book,


Tara Khandelwal  32:40

I think, for me, like, definitely, like the challenges of starting up, for sure. But what you said, you know, what, you guys are saying that it was so full of crazy stories, and he still had a business to run. I found, you know, some of the stories, it's really, really interesting, like, some of the characters that both of you have outlined in this book, you know, and it is sort of the table is sort of it is one of the best restaurants in Bombay. So obviously, the clientele will be celebrities, and you don't take names, but you talk about, you know, how there are guests who sort of, you know, have these special demands, and then your employees have to run around catering to them, or even difficult guests or Bollywood star who forgets something at the restaurant, and the whole restaurant has just sort of like, shut down because he has to come back and take it and go away.


Gauri Devidayal  33:33

That was actually the India India's cricket. India's the captain of the Indian cricket. Oh, my God. Yeah, exactly. But you know, I think it's, you're right. It's, firstly, to really capture I think people's attention, you have to be willing to be completely no holds barred. Honest. Right. So there's the guest stories, and then even our stories of, you know, Jay going and like losing his shirt when one of our team members was moving on to work with the competition. And you know, we were right in the thick of COVID. And, you know, we're sort of stress levels skyrocketing. I think you have to, firstly, decide not to take yourself so seriously that you can't be you know, you can't bear it all. Because at least when it comes to yourself, right, yes, when it comes to guests, a little discretion is required. But when it comes to yourself, I think that's also what people have loved about the book so far as just that. It's literally stripping us bear. And, you know, being honest about the emotions, the sort of roller coaster of emotions that this business takes you through or any business right, I'm sure for any entrepreneur. And then when it comes to the guests, you know, the other day, Tara, I got a message from someone on Instagram. I don't know them, but they reached out and they were like, you know, they were so moved by the story of David. You know, one of the A guest that we've written a chapter about. And she asked me, she said, you know, do you know where he is today? And, you know, have you heard from him again? You know, which we haven't. But I was just amazed that it moved people so much. And that's actually one of the stories that a lot of people have messaged me about saying, you know, we had no idea and can't believe that that happened for y'all. And



could you could you maybe narrate that story for our listeners?


Gauri Devidayal  35:27

Which do you want to do that?


Vishwas Kulkarni  35:29

Yes, I could. But before that, I wanted to add, yes, what God has added doesn't make a lot of sense. You know, there was a very healthy jugalbandi between Gauri and Elijah and me in terms of okay, let's be catty, let's be honest, but at no point, let's get to salacious or nasty as a result of which I think we have this very fun, sensational, but like very breezy, right, you know, in recounting the stories of the cavalcade of madness that makes the table, you know, but anyways, basically, there was this really, you know, very cool American pattern who came every day to the table, literally every day and the bills would run to 50,000 55,000, eroded the best wines, etc, the Community Table, he had the staff, Lord, they were in love with him for just how cool he was, he could talk a guest down, he could drink down anyone down the table. And he'd come every day, he had the air for diplomat slash, you know, 50s Hollywood star. Everyone was so taken in by his charisma that one point Jay also started talking to him about starting a business plan. He lived at a trident. He came every day and an EClass Mercedes, which then was perhaps the car to have, I don't know if it's the car to have today, you know, and, well, slowly, slowly, I think his appearance just got dowdy in a weird way. Like the shirt started getting a little crumpled. And he started coming in with sometimes the wrong type of people. He actually once walked in with a hooker and completely disheveled and will the table for all at school news was on that day, it drew the line and was like, Hey, David, today is not a good day. And sadly, that was the last day saw of him. And one day was a late night. And I think So Shawn was


Gauri Devidayal  37:20

Sushant is our restaurant Operations Manager.


Vishwas Kulkarni  37:25

Going back to So Shawn to basically he was walking back after, after finishing a shift literally at 3:15am. And well, when he crossed, I think the overlays when he discovered David literally on the footpath. And that's a lot of people have responded to that story, because it's the sheer outlandish pneus of it. That took my breath away as well, when I first heard it, you know, but it just gives you a slice of life.


Tara Khandelwal  37:52

Yeah, I think. Yeah, it's sort of like, you know, like, it almost sort of also has inventing and our lives and I read it CDs, because it's like this guy, so flashy. And then you know, I mean, the transformation and what must be going on? And who who is this person? You know, who


Michelle D'costa  38:15

is he? Exactly? You


Gauri Devidayal  38:16

know, it's just it's so incredulous that people can't believe it. Right. So and it was it was just something but that's also kind of Bombay for you, right? It can, you can sort of be riding high one moment and and then not so much the other. That's that's the nature of the city. It's the nature of this business. It's, it's, you know, and that's, I think, the idea that was the idea behind the title Snakes and Ladders, right, you could be rising high, one second, and then come crashing down the next and that's just life.


Michelle D'costa  38:50

Ya know, and, you know, talking about crashing down gory, you know, when I actually started the book, I was, you know, I flipped it to go to the section on the pandemic, and I'm like, Oh, I really hope to see, you know, like, whether they've covered the pandemic or not, because I think the hospitality industry was one of the, you know, industries that suffered really badly during that time. So I was really curious to know, you know, how did you guys make it? What did y'all do? And one of the most favorite scenes of mine is, you know, how your sourdough bread is something which is, you know, it's highly in demand. And then, you know, what can you do? You had to shut the bakery, all the migrants went back home during the pandemic, you know, what could you do, and then the poor security guard was given this task of basically feeding the sourdough starter. So, you know, for all our listeners who probably don't know how the bread is made, you have to keep feeding this sort of this equipment every day, in order to keep the bacteria alive, right or as in you just you can't make the bread. But then what happens later, right, so you decide to restart the bakery. And the ingredients came from all of the places right from the eggs, for example, came for providing maybe the other ingredients came from other places, right just now. Have that regard? You know, because I would say it depends on your drone for Jakarta.


Tara Khandelwal  40:05

Yeah, the fact that the security guard was, but you know, it's all


Gauri Devidayal  40:09

true. It's all completely true. And I think we were talking about writing about the pandemic years. You're right. It's the our industries, you know, suffered a lot, as, you know, many other industries. But ours in particular, had it really bad. But at the same time, we didn't want it to, you know, sound like we were sounding like victims, or, you know, just being feeling sorry for ourselves about that period, right. And we'd come out on the other side, and it was just a time to look back at how again, incredulous that whole time was, it seems so on roll, what happened, when we look back at it, but at the time, it was literally about survival, right. And again, this comes back to that city, you know, perspective, which is that it's really about survival, whether you're a migrant worker, whether you're running a bakery, whether you're running, you know, whatever it is, it comes down to survival, and you have to deal with it head on, and you do what it takes to survive in the city. So I think that's what this sort of chapter was about was, you know, whether it's the survival of the sourdough starter, or whether it's the survival of, you know, our business, which led to, you know, Jay going in, like screaming at someone, in one of our, you know, in someone else's kitchen, this is when one of our team members moved on, it was a very emotional time for all of us, emotionally charged time for all of us, stressful time for all of us. And I think, now that we have the benefit of hindsight, we have to look back at it and, you know, be able to laugh about it. Right. So I think that was the, the approach we took to that.


Tara Khandelwal  41:55

So I really liked the part about, you know, the employee who left, so there was this employee that was very loyal to the company, and would really been there from the beginning, he cited that, you know, his family member was really sick. And that's why he had to go back to his hometown, and that's why he had to leave. And as an organization, you know, you guys were really good to him, you're sort of helped him with this transition. And then the next thing you know, is that it was all a lie, and he's actually gone and worked for a competitor, I think, you know, the emotions that also you portrayed at that time, because it does hit you, you know, that you've worked with this person for so long. And now he sort of it feels like a betrayal. Yeah, even though you know, you're supposed to keep emotions out of business and all of those things and I think the way that you both of you really portrayed those scenes and those emotions after that, that was one of my favorite parts of the book. But I


Gauri Devidayal  42:53

think it's you know, this is one of those businesses where people do come and go it sort of is a bit of a turnstile of team members. And it always hurts no matter how much someone tells you that they it doesn't impact them when people leave and go to the competition it always always hurts you. And I think that particular time in our lives with COVID going on and you know, everything we've just been through and sort of managed to salvage it just added a lot of fuel to the to the already heated, you know, emotions and time. And it was all real like, you know, it was and the thing is that a lot of times we don't talk about this in our business enough that how we feel when people move on and it's inevitable, right? Like no one's mad at you for life, you know, as a as an employee, but every single time you feel that and it was just a particularly charged period in the business.


Vishwas Kulkarni  43:51

Sorry to interrupt you, but in this instance where there's very low turncoat loyal employee had left and Jn Sushant had thrown a fit. There was actually a photograph like of CCTV footage, which I really wanted to use in the book. Somewhere along the line I think Guardian lounge and I decided that was too much. But we had a photograph of Jay and so Shawn screaming away even a video stills,


Tara Khandelwal  44:18

I think you should release an extended version of this book with all of the things we wanted to cut


Michelle D'costa  44:25

the BTS of the BTS



select audio out of which Michelle and I will feel


Gauri Devidayal  44:32

it's really funny again, someone the other day, messaged and said that oh my god, we need to seek all of this. All the other stories that you haven't written and I was like, yeah, that's not gonna happen. And they were left out for a reason. But no, it's it is a very visual book. And again, a couple of people have been saying that they'd love they can see this being a documentary or you know, like a fly on the wall kind of series on on the restaurant business. But yeah, I think I think I'm done for now.


Michelle D'costa  45:05

And, you know, as you said, God, you know, it's like an industry where people come and go, but I think there are also people who stay and you know, help grow their business. And you know, my favorite relationship between, you know, the co workers, I think Chef Lewis and Chef Patra, because they're kind of like brothers. And you know, and this is what I've heard, you know, I've heard that actually, the business of the restaurant, you know, relies on the shoulders of the chef, so I'm really interested to know, what is that, you know, dynamic between them, that keeps the restaurant going? And do you really believe that, that it's the chef that really, you know, basically makes the business? You don't I? Firstly, so they have this good cop bad cop relationship, which


Gauri Devidayal  45:43

is what keeps the team together? But, yes, I mean, there's no doubt about it. So as Chef Lewis was probably like, our second or third employee, when we started back in 2010. And it's amazing that he is still with us. And, and he's worked his way up. I mean, that is, to me, the real story is, you know, the possibilities that the city can give you, if you put in the hard work. He's like a living example of that. And I think that was the story that we wanted to kind of put forward. And of course, we sort of stand very tall on his shoulders, and what he contributes to this business, you know, today, our organizations, 300 people, and everyone has a very significant contribution to make, in making the business what it is, and I think that was, that was the whole point of this book was to show that, you know, you come as an diner me at a restaurant, and you'll often sort of give full credit to the chef to the restaurant tours, etc. Or the person serving you, but it actually just takes a crazy crazy behind the scenes operation to make that, you know, meal and to leave you with that feeling. And that was really the idea of this narrative. And of course, there are a few key characters who are integral to this entire business and this entire story. And of course, Jeff Lewis is one of them. You know, it was very sweet. He messaged me, after the book was out in print and just said that, you know, I am feeling very proud and very happy to be a part of it. And I think it's a big moment. For a lot of the team members, including so Sean's, it's pretty funny. So the book is obviously available for sale in the cafe. And he's my biggest sales guy, because, you know, he's got a vested interest in people reading about him as well. And I love it, because I've seen him, like go up to people and start talking to them, then he'll carry a copy of the book to show them. And then he just opens it at that page where there's a photograph of him. Chapter by the fire or whatever. So I think it's so sweet. And it's just, I think that's the fun of doing this, honestly. But Vishwas also, you know, I mean, you spoke to Louis, obviously, and I think that first conversation that you had with him, I remember, you were sort of quite blown away by the story and how incredible it was.


Vishwas Kulkarni  48:19

I think, you know, the thing with Louis was it just brought a lot of humility, you know, to to the narrative otherwise, we were so glitz and glamour snakes a ladder. But when you when you hear Lewis a story, it's there's something so beautiful about somebody being a standard nine fail and taking that, how dare Bombay Express and then making it to bomb, one of Bombay's biggest restaurants and something with that story stuck with me. Initially, we thought we'll have Lewis sort of peppered through the narrative. But then at some point, I thought God guardian, I think decided that no, let's end it with that narrative because there's something so sunnyside up something so optimistic and something. So the story of India about the fact that people have real struggles. And I wanted to put that we wanted to put that through in the book. And no, it's lovely that Lewis has read it and said, thanks a lot. And and that photograph of Luis is gorgeous, by the way.



Yeah. And


Gauri Devidayal  49:16

you know, it's, this entire industry has evolved over the last, whatever, 1213 years that I've been part of it. And, you know, you hear about celebrity chefs and all these sort of, like chefs are celebrities in their own right now. And what I love about Louis is that he's not even on Instagram, he is oh, he was barely on Instagram. He, you know, doesn't care about all that celebrity hood, but he kind of has had his moment being written about in the book and, and he's very much a celebrity in his own right. So and in his own eyes, I think so. I think that was just really, that's what I love about the chapter on him.


Michelle D'costa  49:56

Yeah, yeah, no, and I actually wanted to add that I love that you're rich. chose to end it that way. Like you said, you know, we shot the Sunnyside top, it was so heartwarming right to know that, you know, you come to come to a city which is which is known to be the city of dreams and that you can actually make it. I just love that, you know, and but you know, what I was, you know, curious about is, you know, I noticed certain patterns in the story, you know, in the book as I read it. And it mostly shows, you know, the FMB industry for how it really is, which is actually a very stressful environment, right? And because I, you know, actively seek out stories about the f&b industry. I also watched this film boiling point. I'm not sure if Yeah, either a few. Yeah. It's really interesting movie, which is short all in one shot in one location. And it actually shows you how ugly it can be. And you know, your book actually brought out you know, all the hurdles, all the stressful stuff that that can come up in the industry. So I'm curious to know, what do you think this book adds to that trope that the f&b industry is all about stress? Or do you think it actually, you know, throws a different light to the industry?


Gauri Devidayal  51:03

I didn't really think about it that way. You know, in terms of what it portrays about the industry, it really was to just give a slice of reality about this business, and you take what you want from it, you know, look, any business is stressful, right? As an entrepreneur, you're gonna go through stress, regardless of what industry you're in. The nature of f&b on restaurants and hospitality is that it's a 24/7 business. So that adds an extra layer of potential for stress, compared to maybe a more sort of office based job, I guess. So I think it's the nature of the business, you have to love it to do it. Because of this crazy stress that comes with it. While it does have all the stress, there's also a lot of pleasure to be had from it. A lot of gratification that comes from feeding people and getting instant sort of positive feedback. And I think, you know, the bottom line is that to do this, you have to love it, you really, I mean, it takes a lot of hard work, it takes a lot of madness, to put this together. And to really unleash that madness and go that extra mile to be successful. You have to love what you do. And you have to love this. And I think that's the message, I guess, that I wanted to put across was that, you know, we, we sort of bitch and moan and cry and laugh and all of that through this, but we still keep going at it right? It's almost like this addiction, because we love what we do. And I think that's what people should understand if they're planning to get into it. And even if they're not, you know, to know that that's kind of what goes behind putting that delicious dish on the table. Yeah, surely, I


Michelle D'costa  52:58

think Yeah. And I can also totally relate it, you know, like, especially with bound. You know, a lot of people ask me, it's like, you know, like, what do you do? Why do you do it all that? And I see, at the end of the day, it's because you love it? Right? It's I think that, you know, your interests, or probably your qualifications can only take you so far. But I think it's your passion. And you said addiction, you know, it is that obsession with with what you do, when what you love that keeps you going? So I think definitely that there's another observation that I had in the book, gory, the fact that, you know, like you mentioned pleasure, right? So there's a saying that, you know, you shouldn't mix business with pleasure, I'm very curious to do about this work life balance that you would have, you know, calculated or, you know, tried to understand or try to find out for yourself, because, you know, you and J are actually real life partners. And at the same time, you're also doing business together. You know, I'm very curious about that relationship, you know, has it ever collided has ever, like, let's say, a work it has it


Gauri Devidayal  53:57

ever not collide? Probably. You know, it's, I think there is no, there's no balance, there's no blurry lines, there is nothing, it's one big ball of a mess. I would say, I'm surprised that we are still married, but at the same time, you know, I mean, jokes apart. It's a business that because of the amount of stress and pain that you have to go through and trouble that you go through, you really need someone sturdy, that you can lean on and you need someone it takes, I think an incredible amount of support that we give each other that gets us through all that madness, right. And you also need someone who's equally passionate about it as you and obviously, we had a lot in common, which is why we got married. And I think that that this restaurant business just gave us the platform to take that those common interests to another level. Yes, people did say that it's the it's a recipe for disaster to work. with your spouse, but I actually feel that if you can figure out a way to not tread on each other's toes, then you can actually it can be a very sort of successful partnership. And it took us like, a few months, when we started working together to figure that out as to what was our respective domains that, you know, we would sort of divide and conquer. But I think once you do that, there's a certain amount of understanding and respect for what each one brings to the business. You know, there's just me, there's none of that, okay, work at work and home at home. Both of them come into both territories often enough, and it's hard to sort of separate them. Again, it comes back to that point of passion, right? Like, even if you travel, you might think you're on holiday, and it's a break from work. But even when you're on holiday, and traveling around, you know, when you're eating food, and you're always like thinking about, you know, being inspired for your own business, you're sort of meeting chefs, you're meeting restaurant, as you're shopping for the restaurant, as you probably read in the book. So it just becomes a way of life, and you can't really switch off from it. Unless, of course, there's a COVID like situation, which again, we've written about how that was like, literally the only time we actually managed to switch off those 810 days. It is, you know, once you accept that, and you stop fighting it, then you sort of try and make it work as well as possible. Yeah,


Michelle D'costa  56:27

no, and I just remembered a funny incident, Cory, because, you know, one of my friends, so it's very similar situation. So she's married to her colleague. And you know, one day I asked her, I was like, Okay, what if you guys have a fight, and you know, you just want to look at each other's face. And she says, Oh, like, we just lock ourselves up in different rooms. He's like, that's the way we avoid. You know, what, it was very funny. Anyway, but, you know, God, what is interesting is I think, you know, there are these internal equations, internal variables that you know, affect the, you know, job affect the f&b industry. But I'm also curious about the external factors, right, like, for example, COVID, is a very big thing that we have covered. But another thing that is a big part of the book is actually the Kamala Mills fire tragedy, you know, and I remember reading about that in the papers, you know, like, Bombay was completely shocked, at least South Bombay was completely shocked because of that. And, you know, you mentioned that this incident opened a can of worms in the f&b industry. So I really want you to, you know, probably share an incident, and what exactly did you mean by that, you know, so,


Gauri Devidayal  57:30

I mean, that was a real tragedy. that happen. And obviously, this business is highly licensed and meant to be regulated, right. And sometimes that slips, and it ends up resulting in tragedies like the commonwealth's fire. And it's a, it's kind of a double edged sword, because there's a lot of sometimes over regulation or obsolete regulation, that is still very much about an industry. And it's a hurdle, it's, we've sort of talked about it, in the context of it being, you know, the unease of doing business in India, right? It's not at all progressive, it's not supportive of the industry, it's not conducive to trying to run a business. But at the same time, there's also it gives scope to a lot of, you know, turning a blind eye to a lot of things which shouldn't be ignored. And that's kind of the reality that we operate in. You know, that was a hugely unfortunate incident, but it opened people's eyes to what rules you just cannot bend. It's a business that has so many rules, that it's impossible to, to adhere to each and every one of them. There are just some that lines that you cannot cross. And I think it just made people sit back and rethink their approach. And also, obviously, for the people who are regulating our industry to, you know, just be a little more mindful of what they turn a blind eye to and what they don't want.


Tara Khandelwal  59:13

Yeah, definitely. I think it's so interesting, speaking to both of you about all the different decisions, that you've taken all the different sort of characters you've portrayed, what you didn't portray, as well. You know, we mentioned this challenges of starting up the guests, and even the failures, you know, because as an entrepreneur, you'll put out products you put out, maybe even new ventures that fail. And you spoke very candidly about how the restaurant Misty actually didn't do so well. And what were the lessons learned? So, when Michelle and I were reading this book, I think we thought it was very real. It was a very sort of nuanced view of the f&b industry of what it takes to run a business, the inside workings of a restaurant. So it really does something that I'm not seeing many sort of books like this in India. So, like comparative titles that come to my mind, Anthony Bourdain Kitchen Confidential, which takes you, you know, right inside the heart of the kitchen. And that's a book that I really, really liked, and maybe some cooking shows, but I can't really think of any other books in India that do quite what you have. And I was also wondering, you know, would you have any recommendations of books for people who are interested in learning more and like this book? Maybe you made one feel like a lawyer. I felt like I was a voyeur. And I found that very exciting. So do you have any recommendations for for other books like that take you inside, you know, this industry that looks really glamorous on the inside, and then shows you how it actually works. So one book,


Gauri Devidayal  1:00:45

which I also had suggested to Vishwas to read, and I read before getting into this business was called setting the table by Danny Meyer's. He's the founder of Union Square Hospitality, which has some of the best restaurants in the US, including Shake Shack and Gramercy Tavern and Union Square Cafe. So some real institutions. And, you know, he sort of, again, talks about it in a very sort of similar vein as to the realities of running the restaurant business. And then more recently, I read a book whole. I'm actually still reading it called unreasonable hospitality by we'll get around. And he's actually a protege of Danny Meyer. And he was one of the partners at what was one termed sort of the top restaurant in the world called 11, Madison Park, and he was in charge of the front of house. And he writes about the idea of creating unreasonable hospitality, like how do you go the extra mile to make a meal special for people and I just think it's, it's amazing getting into the mind of someone like that, understand why people feel the need to be spoiled, and how, you know, we can think about it. And it's not just applicable to the f&b industry, it can be applied to any services industry, honestly. So that I think, two of my favorite books so far, but I know Vishwas has a favorite with you will never eat in this town again. So


Vishwas Kulkarni  1:02:27

Well, I had two books actually. One was a you'll never eat lunch in this town again by Julia Phillips. But that was more of a masala angle, to where Julia Phillips and literally written about just eating out in Hollywood. And just all her stories about about being a female female producer, her trust with Steven Spielberg, blah, blah, blah. It literally had an index of stars that she had pitched about in the end, like in alphabetical order. And I was like, Oh, my God, this is ridiculous. And so that was one sort of star dusty, tabloid inspiration. The other one on a far more personal, more serious note. One of my favorite inspirations is a book called bittersweet lessons to my mother's kitchen by Matt Macalester former award winning war correspondent and also former editor of Newsweek, and what Matt had a, you know, extrapolated on was, you know, the story of literally, him escaping his mother's madness by becoming a war correspondent. But when his mother passes away, he's forced to go back to the house, and actually confront the happiest years he had with her. And so he goes back to his mother's kitchen, and literally pulls out recipes. And it becomes this sort of like, sort of map of London culinary history where you get the best meat bones to make the best doc, where do you make the best omelets, and it's actually like, it's also about him confronting, like, his grief. And it's a food story. And it's actually quite a beautiful, beautiful mix. It came out about 1012 years ago, but it came out two very, very good reviews. I don't know if there's a reprint, but it should be available. And it's actually one of it's a very cool, cool, cool food book.


Michelle D'costa  1:04:13

Yeah, I think I think you know, we can go on and on about food stuff. So there is a there's a recent book that I read, it's called the to the star Quan by Tirana, Khan Hussain. And it actually has stories and recipes from Rambo, you know, a small town in up, and I really love when, you know, a culture is like brought to, you know, the big cities and, you know, we become more aware of these, you know, unheard, or you can say hidden gems, sort of, and I think we are also doing that with a new podcast, right, Tara? So we are actually going to release a food podcast. And it was a contest that we had put out and we got such amazing stories, like from different parts of India of the world, like, you know, things you would never even imagine.


Tara Khandelwal  1:04:55

Yeah, like, I think we're just like, I mean, food is every part of areas that if so, That's what connects everyone. And that's what you guys have done in the book as well. That is sort of the thread that, you know, will sort of connect readers. So, we spoke about food books, and we spoke about books about glitz and glamour. But I want to understand from you guys, you know, what are some cookbooks that you really would recommend to our listeners?


Gauri Devidayal  1:05:22

Okay, you're asking the wrong person. Cooking stresses me out hugely. Vishwa says, meanwhile, spams me with like, dishes that he cooks every single day. So it's probably more appropriate for him to say so yeah. But just to set the record straight on that one. I I rarely go into the kitchen. Because I just figured there are people who do it a lot better than me, and I'll leave it to them. So yeah, I don't have a bookshelf full of cookbooks as much as people might like to believe otherwise being a restaurant, but I know Vishwas is the polar opposite.


Vishwas Kulkarni  1:06:00

I know it's kind of shocked me in the beginning, by God, he would just have like an eye roll or something if I sent like a photograph of something at Coke, because looked completely gourmet, but she would just have no response. And one point after, after many years of knowing that she said, which was actually I have no relationship to cooking, and I was like, okay, that's really strange. But coming back to my favorites, I still have to admit that Jamie Oliver remains one of the best entry points for anyone who wants to start cooking at least Western cuisine. You know, he's remained an inspiration because I think Jamie has this very simple philosophy that please start with whatever's in your kitchen. You know, and that's worked really well for me. And there's another amazing book on Konkani cuisine closer home, the classic concurrent cookbook by Jyotsna Shahana is a classic, I would urge anyone who likes seafood, or even just coastal food, there are lots of vegetarian vegetarian recipes in there to get that one. And my third favorite is the Iraqi table by Robert al Safi, who's basically an Iraqi socialite, based out of Dubai, but she's come out with a coffee table book, which has just been amazingly produced. And it has really literally the entire spectrum of Iraqi cuisine. And I never imagined in that world country, like Iraq to have a cuisine, but it actually does. And it's actually looks amazing,


Michelle D'costa  1:07:26

ya know, and I'm so glad you brought that up, which was because I have a connection to both so like, you know, since I was raised in the Middle East, like you said, you know, Middle East has a very small view. You know, people don't really know so I think I think that's something everyone should pick up and companies actually my mother tongue, so I'm excited. Yeah, I think so excited to pick up both of them. So glad to have


Vishwas Kulkarni  1:07:47

you this. This is quite a serendipity. Yeah, even I lived in Dubai for two years. I was editing a magazine and this book,


Michelle D'costa  1:07:54

yes. Okay, awesome. So this is a fun quiz guys. So both of you can answer. What I'm going to do is I'm going to give you some options and then you have to pick one, one spot in South Bombay that you find peaceful. One Marine Drive, to Colaba, three customerid.


Gauri Devidayal  1:08:12

So I'm gonna say Colaba, not because it is peaceful, but it's, it's where I spend the most time so and I have obviously a particular affection for this neighborhood.


Vishwas Kulkarni  1:08:25

Oh, gosh, parade, because I studied at GD Cemani school, my sister lives in Casper, it still, you know, and mixed up. And her family sort of the best Punjabi food in the city. So for me, company, there's a peaceful place to go to every now and then.


Gauri Devidayal  1:08:41

And it's where our story begins, right?


Michelle D'costa  1:08:45

Yes, okay. One quality that you love about Jay one, his stubbornness to his patients? Three that he's well read. What patience


Gauri Devidayal  1:08:57

and No, he's not. So that I guess it has to be his stubbornness. Yeah, I think I have to give him full credit for his stubbornness. Because if he had listened to me, we wouldn't be here today. And this business wouldn't have started.


Vishwas Kulkarni  1:09:13

I'll have to stick to saying his stubbornness, simply because I remember a time when may 13, had just launched and they had like a taste or evening like where we could taste various dishes, and on the way back, G and glory but dropping the church gate station on the way back home, and they started having an argument about how many dishes to have at me 13 And Jay was like, I want 87 dishes and all and God is like were you going to cook those dishes on the floor? And he was still being very stubborn and he was like, No, you're a defeatist. I want 87 dishes. So yeah, just stubbornness has taken him a long way with his entrepreneurship.


Michelle D'costa  1:09:54

Awesome. One thing that you both have a love hate relationship with Bombay. First, the crowd to the traffic. Third, the weather.


Gauri Devidayal  1:10:05

I would probably say I would say the crowd. You know, it goes back to that thing of you can't live with them. You can't live without them.



Yeah, and you Vishwas


Vishwas Kulkarni  1:10:18

get traffic. I just have significant anxiety when it comes to traffic and Bombay's infrastructure. Well, Bombay's infrastructure is another book altogether. But yeah, you know what I'm talking about. It's just, I can't deal with traffic Schools. I'm very good with public transport. But I can't deal with like, when the Western Express Highway suddenly stuck for like, 40 minutes and all that gets a little irritating.


Michelle D'costa  1:10:40

It definitely does. Okay. All right. So one dish from my street kitchen that we should all try. First, the Korean garlic bun to the pizza, or third, the truffle fries. Okay, this


Gauri Devidayal  1:10:53

is like asking me to pick my favorite child of something. It's really unfair. But if I had to pick one, I'm gonna say, I don't know. I'm gonna say pizza because I have a soft corner for pizza. And you could have pizza at any time of the day. So yeah,


Vishwas Kulkarni  1:11:11

I would say truffle fries. I just love truffle fries. And after going there introduced truffle fries to the city, then Hotjar places that serve it, but they don't do it as well.


Gauri Devidayal  1:11:21

And this has a particular sort of affinity for the truffle in the truffle phrase or that's, again, you have to read the book to know more.



Yes, yes, I



love the travel.


Michelle D'costa  1:11:36

Okay, now I definitely have to try that out. One thing that you discovered you love about writing while writing this book, one, the act of being published to co writing the book together, or third, recollecting incidents for the book.


Gauri Devidayal  1:11:50

I think for me, it was definitely the third recollecting the incidents because, honestly, I had forgotten so many things that came up during those interviews that Vishwas was doing with us. And it just brought back this flood of memories. You know, it was just brought a big smile to my face to even imagine that some of those things happened. So I think that to me, was the most fun bit.



And which was, well, in retrospect,


Vishwas Kulkarni  1:12:19

co authoring the book was my favorite aspect, you know, because when you're writing a book, on your own, you pretty much know what, what trajectory you want to go with, etc. I've been a journalist for many years where I've just written and somebody's like, wow, which was fabulous article, co writing a book came with its own challenges were that the back and forth that be like, a sudden awareness that you're not the master of your own writing, you have to collaborate, you know, the key word being collaborate. So I think that was my favorite aspect of writing diamonds for breakfast. Yeah,


Tara Khandelwal  1:12:52

I love learning how you know, the process when how you guys met and the collaboration between you two, maybe it will inspire Michelle and I write a book together as well. I think it brings up a lot more dimension would have otherwise. Okay, so that brings us to our last section, which is the rapid fire round. So one word you would use Vishwas to describe gory,


Michelle D'costa  1:13:16

ambitious. Wow. Okay, so Gaudi what word would you use to describe fish fast?


Gauri Devidayal  1:13:23

tech challenged? Thanks. No, I mean, jokes apart. I think I'm actually like, very bad with words, but,


Vishwas Kulkarni  1:13:35

but I'll go with tech challenges. It's kind of cool and rightfully so don't worry about that.


Tara Khandelwal  1:13:42

Okay, so what is your both of your favorite dish of all time?


Gauri Devidayal  1:13:47

favorite dish? I would say I'll go with cuisine if that's okay. And I'm gonna say Japanese.


Vishwas Kulkarni  1:13:54

I'd go with Vietnamese. Oh,


Michelle D'costa  1:13:57

Asian. Okay. I like it. All right. Um, which industry? Do you want to explore next as an entrepreneur, Gauri, and for Vishwas. As a writer,


Gauri Devidayal  1:14:06

I want to explore nothing but my bed. Okay, but I mean, again, jokes apart. I think what I really enjoy is PR and marketing. And that's probably something that I would do next if I was to do something else. Well,


Vishwas Kulkarni  1:14:26

I'm actually very keen to explore like my relation, my personal relationship to pop culture. And I'm in the midst of writing my own memoir for a change. You know, my last two written projects have been collaborative. The screenplay with Lionsgate was a writers room. So it involves two other people, diamonds for breakfast and gold, glory and hills. And as I start on my third personal, individual project, I think I'm going to be focusing on just pop culture in the 1980s my relationship to it just a personal memoir



of the way that sounds very exciting. Yeah, yeah,


Tara Khandelwal  1:15:01

so cool. Love to read that when it's out. Okay, so what do you guys both read for fun after a very tiring day?


Gauri Devidayal  1:15:08

I literally read anything. I feel like reading at the time. I don't think I have like one genre. That's what you mean.


Tara Khandelwal  1:15:19

Okay, what was like a recent book that you read that you like? What


Gauri Devidayal  1:15:23

did they read? This, you answer this, I'm gonna think.


Vishwas Kulkarni  1:15:27

Okay. You know, I basically just pick up my Kindle, which I have been very indiscriminate with the number of books I bought on my Kindle. And I just pick up like a horror novel in the night to excite me, because I'm kind of done with OTT people watch, you know, and I'm just like, hey, I'll watch maybe a 90 minute film, but I'm not going to be binge watching tonight. So I usually pick up my Kindle and try and read. In fact, a recent novel, I can't figure out the name of the author is called My heart is a chainsaw, which is set in a gated community in Idaho, where people just started getting killed. And it's sort of good Daniel well enough by Simon and Schuster to have a sequel out, but that's what I do. I pick up like random thrillers and read them and get excited. Awesome.


Gauri Devidayal  1:16:15

Okay, so one hangout that made the book possible. Or in other words, where did you write? So since most of this book was written, actually, during COVID, we wrote in our respective homes, but where we would get together, there were two places one was in a polybag. And, you know, where we were not distracted by work. And so we were able to spend a lot of sort of quality chunks of time together. And I think the other was in our office, you know, where Vishwas would also get to meet a lot of the other protagonists in this book.



Yeah, I


Tara Khandelwal  1:16:50

think, you know, that emotion for Vishwas, you know, because God is living it every day. But as a co writer, you know, that emotion for you? It the whole world and bringing it all together must have been so, so fulfilling, I think, you know, as an editor, yeah. As an editor.


Vishwas Kulkarni  1:17:07

Oh, my God, it was such a chip that had one. Yeah. And Michelle, actually started threatening, golly, that Oh, my God, after the bootloader is done, I'm going to be looking the streets.


Tara Khandelwal  1:17:20

Yeah, you'll be in it in sort of, like, get, you know, like, because we sort of help writers and, you know, we help people tell their stories to when you really sort of started living in that world, and then you never want to sort of get out of that world. For you, you know, to get immersed in that world, and must've been so creatively fulfilling as well.


Vishwas Kulkarni  1:17:39

Truly, truly, it was really amazing coming to the table headquarters and, and just, it was like, literally, like, you know, sometimes some characters would be there, sometimes they'd be so sharp, and sometimes they'd be Bhushan. And they'd be so busy with their work that you would not really get time to see see Hello, anything but he just seen, you just see the creative chaos that went into the table, you know, and that was really good. Coming to Colaba. Religiously just doing interviews, meeting people setting up, setting up time aside. And one of the other places then I would sometimes choose to work out of was our Ramnagar and verso, which is this very bucolic calm, and they get rented into the small room out of there. If I felt like I think a couple of chapters were not too much written out there. But some quality writing was done out of there as well. Like Play Misty for Me. You know, once we started the book, again, post COVID


Michelle D'costa  1:18:33

Oh, just listen to that as fast as we want to go back to my writing desk and get back to why writing that is it's so inspiring. But but you know, I just loved this episode, when I was just telling Tara that I'm so glad we are covering food and not just food but the whole f&b industry. And it's it's kind of like coming full circle, you know, and as I actually chatting with my dad about the book, and he said, Oh, we should definitely visit on the table. I said, Oh, yeah, why not? So yeah, thank you so much for sharing your process, especially the co authoring process, how you went about self publishing how you went about, you know, just, I will say building this from scratch all over again through the book. Thank you so much.


Gauri Devidayal  1:19:13

Thank you for having us.


Vishwas Kulkarni  1:19:14

Thanks a lot for having us. Michelle and Tara, it was bad.



Thank you.


Tara Khandelwal  1:19:21

So here we are, where the end of yet another journey into the many worlds of Books and Beyond with bound. I'm Tara can the wall


Michelle D'costa  1:19:29

I'm Michelle D'costa. And this podcast is created by bound a company that helps you grow through stories. Find us at sound India or all social media platforms. So tune


Tara Khandelwal  1:19:40

in every Wednesday if you live, eat and breathe books and join us as we discover more revolutionary books and peek into the lives and minds of some truly brilliant authors from India and South Asia.


Michelle D'costa  1:19:55

And don't forget to keep your love for stories alive for books. and beyond