The mind of a chef

Updated on: Aug 23, 2017




Luxe_Gaggan 601328

Luxe_Gaggan 601328

Gaggan Anand on awards, inspiration, creating trends and the challenges of cooking for a demanding infant

It is unpleasant for a fêted chef to watch anyone spit out his food. Gaggan Anand has earned the top spot at ‘The Worlds 50 Best’ — Asia list, three years in a row, winning the confidence of culinary world’s 300 plus well-respected voters. Nevertheless, there is one person he still hasn’t managed to impress — his 15-month-old daughter. “I just cooked a meal for her with chicken liver, banana, rice and milk and she spat it out,” says Anand, when asked what’s cooking at home. “I think she has a second plan. She is a brat. She always has two menus up her sleeve. One menu is what we want her to have and the second is what she wants to eat!”

On a day off, Anand’s routine is divided into cooking for his toddler and spending quality time with family. He trusts his team at the restaurant to take care of the usual affairs rather well. “The biggest change that has happened in the last four years is in my team. We started with 16 people and now we are 67. Some of them have been with me since day one. The big deal for me is to retain them. What also matters is that my team believes that we are one of the best restaurants in the world,” he says.

Anand opened Gaggan in Bangkok in late 2010. In a short time, the restaurant earned a place in the ‘50 Best List’ and climbed to the top of ‘Asia’s best’ list, retaining the spot even in 2017. “50Best Restaurants made me. It is an important part of my life, my work, my commitment,” asserts the chef. He acquired his first culinary skills in India and went on to work with Chef Ferran Adria in Spain’s three-Michelin-star El Bulli restaurant.

Since inception, Gaggan has been offering what its founder likes to call ‘progressive Indian cuisine’, except that now he plans to change the term to ‘Gaggan’s experience’. “There are two types of restaurants. One restaurant is where you go for a cuisine and the other is where you go for what the chef is creating. I want to highlight what the chef wants to create at Gaggan,” says Anand who announced that he plans to close the restaurant in 2020. His next destination — Gaggan in tow — is likely to be Fukuoka, Japan. Some news reports have suggested that he might use his Bangkok space for a culinary school. Among other such adventures, Anand plans to give Bangkok, the city that made Gaggan a shining star, something new — a fine-dining Japanese restaurant that will serve a selection of exclusive wines with yakitori-style chicken dishes.

Gaggan made a mark in the culinary world for innovative twists on Indian flavours and cooking style. “One of the most difficult preparations to create in the current menu has been ‘charcoal’,” says Anand. Charcoal is a fried fish mixture in the shape of a briquette, covered with charcoal powder. “The inspiration for this dish comes from the snacks cooked over charcoal-fired kadai as street food in India. Without charcoal, there would be no street food in our country,” he explains. “Today, what we create becomes a trend. When I created charcoal it became a trend. The liquid nitrogen kulfi became a trend in India. My success is not just about awards. My success is about going to a shopping mall in Ludhiana and buying a liquid nitrogen kulfi. Success for me is to be able to inspire new thoughts about food,” adds Anand.

Will Anand bring Gaggan’s experience to India? “I am afraid of opening a restaurant in India. I’ll give you an example. Few days back, a party of four Indians asked for last-minute reservation and we gave them a table. The table was booked for 6pm, they arrived 90 minutes late. They brought an extra person and an infant. I did not have place for six heads. The party behaved arrogantly. We had to ask them to leave. We do not know how to behave and respect a restaurant and its staff. I love my country but these are problems that worry me.”

Meanwhile, Anand seems happy to host pop-ups in India. “I love visiting India to revive my palate with some good old Kolkata food,” he says. His all-time favourites are Swati Snacks, Udupi and Vardaan Market in Kolkata.

S hilpa Dhamija is the editor of

Published on January 09, 2018

Follow us on Telegram, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube and Linkedin. You can also download our Android App or IOS App.

This article is closed for comments.
Please Email the Editor

You May Also Like

Recommended for you