The menu at Gloria's Restaurant in Sudbury is getting an international update thanks to the help of a staff member whose journey to the Nickel City is as interesting as his recipe book. 

Utpal Ghosh is from Bangladesh, but his family fled the country in the early 1990s when violence erupted against non-Muslims. 

They resettled in Kolkata, India, but Ghosh wanted to pursue a degree in health care. He moved to St. Petersburg, Russia to follow that dream, but a run-in with white supremacists changed his mind. 

"I had been affected twice," he said.

"They don't like the different culture people, you know. We were students there, so we used to take bus and metro, so people who were, uh, brown colour skin — they easily can find us, right?"  

Ghosh said his friend was put in hospital for two days.

"He was beaten badly. So I was scared."

'You can do something different'

That fear drove Ghosh to live with a cousin in Montreal, in 2002, where he started working in restaurants to make ends meet. 

That eventually led to a cooking job at a Golden Griddle in Oshawa, and then: a trip back to India, where Ghosh married. 

When his new wife got a job at Sudbury's hospital, a friend suggested that Ghosh apply for a job at Gloria's in Sudbury.

"She told me that you better go and try there. It's not a franchise. You can go and do a lot of, you know — if you have anything in mind, you can do something different."

Bruno Michel

Gloria's Restaurant owner Bruno Michel beams over a pot of Banjara chicken: "This is authentic, scratch cooking," he says of chef Uptal Ghosh's Thursday specials. (Jason Turnbull/CBC)

Gloria's owner Bruno Michel said before he hired Ghosh four years ago, he'd never even heard of caraway seed. But, the aromatic temptations coming from his employee's lunch bag proved irresistible, and Michel decided that his customers should give it a try. 

He asked Ghosh to prepare Tandoori chicken one day. New to the menu — but not wholly unfamiliar to diners. 

"People didn't believe it. They thought it came out fo a box," said Michel of the reaction over that first Indian meal six months ago.

"I've had to parade Utpal around to introduce him to the customers to show them that this is scratch cooking!" 

Michel said he's so happy with the experience so far, that he hopes to introduce more international food to the menu on select days. 

"I would love to say on Tuesdays, introduce another nationality," he said.

"I'm not sure they would become menu items necessarily. But that's a possibility. Have a little East Indian section next to the hot hamburgers and liver!" 

Listen here to the short documentary on this story prepared by CBC Radio host Jason Turnbull.