Can you even call yourself a fine dining Bangkokian if you weren’t at least a little bit teary-eyed at the news of the permanent shut-down of Gaggan a few weeks ago? Of course you can’t.
The news hit foodies like a tropical storm, in a spin that saw all of the revered restaurant’s reservations very suddenly cancelled. To some, it seemed like an extremely puzzling act of self-sabotage, but to the infamously blunt and mercurial chef Gaggan Anand, the move was hastened by creative necessity after a dispute over shares with his business partners. Today, sporting a Nirvana t-shirt in true Gaggan style, the culinary rock star expresses no regrets about killing off his golden goose — the proud home of the best restaurant in Asia many years in row, no less. Anticipating the next big thing to seduce our palates once again, read ahead to see what the Michelin-studded chef has in store next.
Cooking up a storm
“Sudden things in life are not planned, like a hurricane, like a typhoon. It just comes, you deal with it,” the 41-year-old told AFP in his loft-style apartment in the Thai capital, with fridges covering an entire wall, a long dining table, and a bookshelf-size pantry. “I am tired. I am laughing. I am crying. I AM JUST A HUMAN,” he said this week in an emoji-laden Instagram post in which he apologised to customers and said “64 rebels” had walked out with him. “
He told AFP that his new, more intimate space likely opening in October will host 40 diners per evening, but his ambition remains expansive. “In ten years I will be one of the greatest chefs of the 21st century. A world star,” he said, looking through big black glasses. “Every year, at least 20,000 tourists already make the trip to Bangkok to try my cooking.”
Lick it Up
Of course, anyone familiar to Gaggan will know the previous is no lie. A disciple of the Catalan master of molecular cuisine Ferran Adria, Gaggan opened his eponymous restaurant in 2010 in Bangkok’s glitzy business district. A mere five years later, it catapulted into Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants, and in the 2018 Thailand edition of the Michelin guide, it nabbed two stars and shot to the No.4 spot on the World’s 50 Best Restaurants. Even the hit Netflix show “Chef’s Table” followed Gaggan around the city as he shopped in local markets or prepped meals in the kitchen.
His secret for success? Serving up molecular — or what he calls “progressive” — gastronomy in Asia and revolutionising Indian cuisine by introducing Japanese and even South American influences. Among his creations are foie gras with goat’s brains, spherical yogurt served on a spoon, and an oyster topped with horseradish cream; a dish he calls “Viagra”.
For one course customers are also encouraged to lick their plates as the Kiss song “Lick It Up” blares out over speakers. Classic Gaggan.
For his new venture, the Indian chef hopes to bring the same unexpected flair, but this time using his full name: Gaggan Anand.
A former drummer and rock lover, Gaggan likes to listen to Nirvana or the Red Hot Chili Peppers in the kitchen. He smiles, “I’m a culinary rock star, an anti-conformist.”
Born in 1978 in an underprivileged part of Calcutta, he began cooking with his mother “who made simple but incredible dishes”, before enrolling at hotel school at the age of 18. He set up a meal delivery business, before finally making the big move to Thailand in 2007, with only “a few hundred dollars” to his pocket.
After working at several restaurants, he made a snap decision to set up his own after a booze-fuelled evening with friends. He convinced the team at the then-number one restaurant in the world — Adria’s El Bulli in Spain — to take him on as an intern. “I discovered the emotional experience of cooking: mixes of flavours, textures and incredible techniques, I wanted to apply his revolutionary methods in Asia.”
Gaggan’s project was ascendant for almost 10 years, but the disagreement with business partners spelled the end. “I wanted to own more shares in the establishment, to have more control, but my partners have refused,” he told AFP. He said in an Instagram post he owned a 25 percent minority stake.
In the coming restaurant, however, his daughter will be the biggest shareholder. He writes, “so you can be sure my next venture will be driven from love and pure passion.”
We can’t wait to lick up whatever the culinary rockstar has cooking.
This article is published via AFP Relaxnews.
Exciting Update: In an Instagram post released by Gaggan on 3 September, the chef unveiled a few more details.
The location of the restaurant will be at these GPS coordinates: 13.7244327,100.6033853. It will seat 40 people (to be filled gradually in 4 time slots of maximum 10 covers. The time slots are 5.30pm, 6.30pm, 7.30pm, and 8.30pm, with lunches on weekends. The last supper table is at 7pm (for 14 seats) and only one round, and the price of the menu will be the same as before at THB 8000++ for food only.
Reservations are expected to be easy (“if you bribe me”), and the opening date will be soon announced with a reservation link. We have a feeling it’s going to explode.