Today we’re talking with Chandrima Sarkar, the very gifted women behind the fabulous blog Not out of the box. Chandrima is a recipe developer, food stylist, and food blogger from Navi Mumbai, who has taken social media by storm with her creative, flavorful and eye-catching food photography.
1.Tell us a bit about your family, career background, and the path that led you to set up Not out of the Box?
Born and brought up in the suburb of Kolkata in a Bengali family, I studied Bengali literature and wanted to pursue Masters from Calcutta University, but I just took an impromptu decision not to continue with higher studies on the final day of university admission. As I had a keen interest in creating storytelling with high visual impact, I studied computer graphics in early 2000. The keen interest of Fine Art pushed me to pursue a career in visual design. As I wanted to be painter, I did a Diploma in Fine Arts too.
But my imagination and creative flair didn’t let me stop there. I started my food blog, as I combined my recipe developing skills with my training and expertise in visual art & design. That helped me in becoming a diversified creator with food-photography, food styling and content creation for my blog. These skills also come in handy when I work with different brands I collaborate with.
So from creative storyteller, I became a culinary storyteller.
2. The reason behind the name of your Website?
The name Not Out of the Box is my answer to the so-called phrase ‘Out of the Box.’ I believe there is nothing out of the box, and everything has its pre-defined boundaries. Our thought process always starts with knowledge from our surroundings. Whatever we learned, saw, heard, and believed from our childhood, we try to put them in a box, and during our practice, we took ingredients out of it only. Let me explain with an example, in a Fresh Fruit Cake globally, we use a few specific types of fruits, but we never use Olive or Jackfruit.
3. How did the idea come, and what it took to make it a reality? When did you launch?
I guess I got inspired to start my food blog because I was posting some of my recipes on my Facebook Page in 2012, which was started to share my artwork. Gradually, my recipes started getting a broader audience, and people started telling me, “Chandrima, you should start your food blog.” Constant feedback and appreciation pushed me to start my food blog.
4. Did you have any professional help, or did you create the blog yourself?
I didn’t seek any professional help initially. My husband helped me with the technical parts of creating the blog. But later, when we grew, I hired a web developer to do the basic enhancement set-up so that the blog can become more user-friendly.
5. I see that you are not just a blogger now, but also a recipe developer, and a food stylist? Take us through your journey.
Yes, my work is multifaceted. Not only a Food stylist and recipe developer, but I’m also working as a Recipe Video Creator for many brands from the last few years.
6. How much time do you spend blogging? How did you balance blogging and family life?
Family and Work both are equally important to me. I blog from home usually, so, it gives me the liberty to work around family simultaneously. There is no specific time for blogging in my day-to-day life. But I’m particular about publishing one new post every week on my blog.
It’s not at all easy to juggle family life with multi-dimensional works + blogging. Along with that, the game of Social Media adds on some more stress. Being said that it’s all about passion and willingness towards what I do.
7. What’s that one recipe on your blog you always tell people about first?
It’s hard to choose one single recipe from hundreds’ of recipes. But yes, the Vegetarian Potoler Dolma (Stuffed Pointed Gourds) is one such recipe which is close to my heart. It’s the best version of Potoler Dolma especially when you’re looking for a vegetarian option of this traditional Bengali dish.
8. Where did the inspiration from cooking come from? (another chef, mom, or a cookbook)
In the beginning, it was my mother to whom I looked up to, learned a lot from her, and I’m still learning. Later the inspirations were random from the kinds of stuff I browsed over the Internet or the places I visited to explore foods. Besides, fellow blogger/photographer friends and spontaneous activity around everything artistic inspires me every day. I don’t follow the books much; one reason is that I don’t get enough time to concentrate on Cookbooks, but if anything grabs my attention I do read.
9. What was the most challenging/ exciting moment in your blogging journey so far?
I would call it exciting. I have thoroughly loved and enjoyed the journey so far! It is food photography which excites me most among all the activities I do around food. Capturing food in motion was challenging to me earlier. But with practice, I have a come a long way. My passion keeps me going.
10. What suggestions would you give to other young women food bloggers?
Develop your style by practicing photography every day. Take inspiration from the work of other photographers but don’t copy them. Always remember originality has the power to stand out from the crowd. Stay true to yourself and the work you do.