On Wednesday night, Mumbai-born Thailand-based Garima Arora's restaurant, GAA became the first and only restaurant helmed by an Indian woman chef to be awarded the prestigious Michelin star. And Garima along with her restaurant crew celebrated their win by converting the bar at GAA into a beer pong table.
Talking of her victory to a travel magazine, Garima said, "I don't think it has sunk in yet! The moment we got the call was just perfect. It was me, my sous-chef, our PR manager, our restaurant manager, sommelier, all sitting together for a food and wine pairing. And while we were eating, we were like 'wow this is so good', and that exact moment we got the call. It was almost poetic."
Mumbai-born Garima loved to eat the exotics foods her father would bring from his travels, and went on to study at Jai Hind College in the city. The chef was a journalist for a while before she went on to chase her dream of becoming a chef. The Le Cordon Bleu alumna has also worked with some of the biggest names in the food industry like Gordon Ramsay, René Redzepi, and Gaggan Anand, too.
The restaurant was set up in May of 2017, and serves Indo-Thai cuisine, talking of the diverse cuisine, Arora spoke about one of the most popular dishes saying, "We do this jackfruit dish (Unripe jackfruit, roti, pickles), for example. It is one of our most popular courses today. We give this whole piece of jackfruit cooked on the grill. In Thailand, no one eats unripe jackfruit but in India, it's the most normal thing. We also have a small roti that you make a taco out of using all these home-made pickles on the side. So, I mean this dish is about combining not only technique or flavours but also cultures. There is such a big connection between the two countries, which back home we never talk about."
Talking about her restaurant crew and kitchen vibe to a travel magazine, Garima said, "There are 12 of us but we are seven different nationalities. So, it's very eclectic—just like our food. There is always music playing—anything from salsa to Cardi B to Pink Floyd—and we all come in between 10am-12 noon, every day. We try and work out together at a 24-hr gym close by and if it's not a busy night, then sometimes we do HIIT training in the kitchen, between courses as well. We try to keep fit, but I think the beer gets the better of us!"
Gwendal Poullennec, International Director of the MICHELIN Guides, in the official statement said, "This year's guide is a reflection of the growing talent in Thailand's culinary scene with many new restaurants added to the selection, including 13 specializing in Thai food, reinforcing Thailand's reputation as a go-to destination for gastronomy."
This is the second edition of the 'MICHELIN Guide Bangkok, Phuket and Phang-Nga 2019 Selection', and it has recognized a total of 27 dining establishments. Among those giving their congratulations were also veteran journalist and food critic Vir Sanghvi, who tweeted: