19 April, 2021

Munnabhai, Cordon Bleu

Munna Maharaj, the man Mittals have trusted their food with

Munnabhai, Cordon Bleu
Sixty years ago, the town of Gaya in Bihar was not as spectacularly filthy as it is today. But the prospects it offered were still poor enough to drive Mahabir Singh to Calcutta. The sweet-seller set up a small business catering to local Marwari business families, which earned him just enough to keep a wife and five children in a tiny space in north Calcutta’s congested Muktaram Babu Street.

Even that life looked threatened when Mahabir died young, leaving the family near-destitute. When Dipak, the second son, failed his exams, it only added to the woes of a cash-strapped family. Yet today Dipak, now better known as Munna Maharaj, is the man entrusted with preparing the food for the spectacular wedding of global steel billionaire Laxmi Mittal’s daughter. The rags-to-riches story of a struggling student who became one of India’s finest chefs is a remarkable tale of 24 years of hard work and unprecedented success.

Dipak used to accompany his father to his clients’ homes, and after Mahabir died he worked these contacts. With just a few exceptions (he catered for Michael...

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