Well, this week it's not about 'what' but 'who' am I crushing on? It's none other than our Mumbai girl, Chef Garima Arora! She has taken the food space in Bangkok by a storm with her Michelin star, Indian-Thai restaurant, Gaa. Adding yet another jewel to her crown, on 26th March she'll be awarded as Asia's best female chef, 2019.
Her Back Story:
As a child, Garima was always passionate about cooking and her biggest influence was her father who spent a considerable amount of time in the kitchen. Growing up in a Punjabi household only enhanced her love for food. She chose to begin her culinary journey when she was 19 and Le Cordon Bleu was where she headed to. There she trained under crème de la crème culinary geniuses- Gordon Ramsay, Rene Redzepi and worked as a sous chef for Gaggan Anand.
Opening her own restaurant:
While working for Gaggan, he decided to open a restaurant in Mumbai for which Garima was excited to come back to the place she grew up in. But as destiny plays an important role, somehow the deal couldn't go through and she got yet another opportunity to stay back in Bangkok.
Garima conceptualized her own menu for her restaurant Gaa, while she was still a sous chef with Gaggan Anand. With her menu, she stuck to her Indian heritage, incorporating Asian cooking techniques.
Using her culinary influences from the tribal scape of Bangkok, Garima heroes locally grown and seasonal produce from the region. Her menu is an amalgamation of modern, playful and innovative techniques, twisting up prosaic ingredients into marvelous concoctions like unripe jackfruit, liquid banana, duck doughnuts. Her 10-14 course tasting menu intelligently surprises diners with spectacular flavour pairings, served with either juice or wine.
"It's time to change the way the world perceives Indian cuisine. Chefs in the West have always looked at French techniques to make something modern, Indian techniques have the same tools, or can provide you with the techniques to do the same."
With a menu serving unripe jackfruit, liquid banana bread and duck doughnut, restaurant Gaa is not instantly recognisable for one particular cuisine. The chef is from Mumbai, the location is Bangkok and the ingredients are local – yet Garima Arora defines her debut solo restaurant as neither Thai nor Indian. Nevertheless, behind every dish there are cooking techniques based on centuries of Indian history; techniques that have crossed into Thailand and, over time, influenced much of Asia. It is these Indian techniques that are very much at the heart of Gaa and its success, and which Arora wants to show to the world.
It's been a very short stint for Garima from when she first started her restaurant, Gaa in 2017. Yet she's won hearts producing dishes that have managed to garner attention worldwide. There's no slowing down for her after this humongous achievement. Instead, she's a step ahead, focusing all her energies towards creating her new menu.
This news just made the food space look and feel better, added a tint of sparkle over Indian hearts, and gave us a few gloating rights, least to say. Kudos, Garima!
Think of her as a delicacy. She could be a red sauce penne pasta or refreshing strawberry smoothie. A little sweet, quite tangy and unapologetic on the palate. Her soul is that of a gastronome, mind of an illustrator and heart of a writer. She uses these ingredients to plate up tasty stories about food at India Food Network as an Associate Editor. Be it her blogs, articles, reviews or food shows; she promises a wholesome affair.