When you meet Chef Gaggan Anand, you realise he is a force to reckon with in the culinary world. He is known to serve Indian food in an all-new avatar at the global level. The Michelin-starred chef has come to Delhi for a 20-day special residency at the Hyatt Regency, where he will be curating an exclusive 25-course menu for just 35 guests every night. The FinancialExpress.com caught up with Chef Gaggan Anand and spoke about his food journey, his signature dishes, and style, hardships faced by restauranteurs, upcoming events, and more. Excerpts from the interview:
How did you get interested in food? How did it all start?
My mom has always been a fabulous cook. I grew up watching her cook, helped her with errands, and eventually started cooking at the age of 6. I have numerous memories of cooking with her or simply being with her and watching her cook. That I think helped me develop a strong passion for passion.
From then to now, how has the industry changed?
The industry has evolved for the better. With technology, there is a lot of innovation going on in the kitchen and hence what is plated is an art itself. Consumers’ likes and dislikes have always been my priority and I take their feedback very seriously.
What is your go-to food type?
I love street food – all types of chaats and local delicacies are eaten with hand in hurry and chaos. Local cuisines are so comforting and delicious.
One Indian chef you look up to?
Why just one? There are so many of them doing incredible work. I like Satish Arora, Manjeet gill, Kunal Kapur, Manish Mehrotra, Atul Kochar, Ritu Dalmia and so many more.
How do you ensure that you match the taste of people from across India?
That’s not my philosophy of cooking. I have never tried to match any specific taste/ palette. I cook what I want, what I love and then I let my audience decide if it’s good or not. I improvise it as per their feedback.
What are the things you keep in mind while preparing your menu?
Cooking has never been a chore for me. It’s my passion. Each dish that I curate is a mixture of memories, nostalgia, textures, taste, timings, surprise, play, and fun. Why be so serious while cooking?
How do you deal with competition?
I have no competition from anyone. I am my own competitor, trying to improve every day. Cooking is a state of bliss, I am not competing with anyone.
What are the hardships that you deal with as a restaurateur?
Hahaha! It is to say NO to everyone who can buy me out. I AM NOT ON SALE!!!!
When you’re not cooking yourself what do you like to eat?
Simple dal chawal achar is my go-to food. I am quite moody and have different food cravings at different times.
Now that you are known to be boundary-pushing, is there pressure to surprise diners with something wilder?
There is no pressure. We play the right song with the right course. It’s almost like an opera that is very well thought out and very well-rehearsed. I am glad that I have such a wonderful team.
What’s your secret ingredient and what’s your USP?
I think – Having fun while cooking. We enjoy the process and love what we do. We never opt for any shortcut even while preparing for the lengthiest course. It’s all about planning and precision.
How do you deal with creativity block? The food industry is evolving and each day there’s something new.
We are a team of thinkers and innovators, and they are gifted. I am the master of this orchestra, just making sure everyone plays the right note.
What should young chefs look to follow in your footsteps and not do to become as successful as you are?
I would say be consistent and have patience. Improve and craft your skill. Don’t get tempted in opening branches or doing TV shows. It’s been 14 years for Gaggan and I haven’t opened another Gaggan, nor I have been part of any reality show.
Why don’t we see many female chefs in India? Is there a gender bias in the industry?
Well, I gave Garima Arora ‘GAA’ which is a modern Indian fine dining restaurant situated in the heart of Bangkok. She rose to the highest fame any Female Indian chef has ever been. I think many more are following this journey; the best is yet to come. However, I do agree that Indian parents should change their perception of catering and hospitality as a career.
What do you splurge on the most?
Music, Concerts, vinyl
Where do you see Gaggan the person and Gaggan the brand in five years?
Gaggan was always a Band, not a Brand. As a person, I think I will be settled somewhere in the mountains, on a farm chilling and enjoying my ‘50s.
What is next? What are you treating us with now?
Right now, I am concentrating on a great residency at Hyatt Regency Delhi. I am hoping for a great response. Post the residency, I want to curate a new menu and start a fresh season at Gaggan in Bangkok.