Food & Drink

Gaggan Cooks in the Philippines for the Last Effin' Time

Gaggan Anand, Asia's Best, teams up with Manila's best, Chele Gonzalez
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“Fuck this…fuck that.”

Gaggan Anand, in the country to collaborate with Philippines’ best, Chele Gonzalez of Gallery by Chele, says “fuck” so much that by the third course, the word has practically lost its meaning. Or maybe gained more. A dinner by him makes you realize that his F-bombs are so loaded that they're more than angry interjections. The rockstar chef of Asia’s best restaurant (the seventh in the world), an eponymous world renowned eatery in Bangkok, is tired. He’s tired of all the bullshit. He’s tired of what the industry’s become. “Fuck it” has become the shorthand for his culinary philosophy.

He yells over the '80s rock blaring through the speakers of Stvdio Lab: “It’s all pretention. Food should be fun. People made it complicated."

Yes, Gaggan is fucking it: fuck the rules, fuck the trends. It’s impiety that only a chef of his stature could get away with and he’s knows it. But he also understands that power he has to turn food back around. As irreverent as he is idealist, the award-winning chef dreams of having a place where camera phones are verboten, the setting is relaxed, emotions. In fact, his world-renowned restaurant is already headed towards this direction—infamous for its Emoji degustation menu, where Gaggan lets customers write down their own menu based on what each dish made them feel.

“What is luxury?” he asks us. “Fine dining, for example, has become destroyed. Truffle? Foie gras? Everyone uses those ingredients. It’s not fine dining anymore,” he continues. Gaggan has become a victim of the very industry that he helped push, he seems to think. He points at someone at the table who was busy with a mobile device. “See? She’s looking at her phone while I’m here talking.”

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Luxury, for him, is reveling in the moment. “What is luxury? Service is a luxury,” he finally answers. Just as he redefined Indian cuisine back in 2010, he’s back to creating his own rules. Gaggan’s next restaurant will be in Fukuoka in 2021 with Chef Takeshi Fukuyama, which will be open only six months a year with a mere 10 seats available every night.

But until then, there is still Gaggan and his infamous multi-course Emoji menu is his “g-string” to seduce you to his restaurants.

For his special and very exclusive visit, Gaggan and Gonzalez have paired together to come up with a menu that triggers all kinds of emotions:

The idea is to write down what you felt with every dish.

 

Gaggan: In non-emoji-speak, this one is the yogurt explosion
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Gallery: The flavors of sea cupped in a seaweed cracker

Gaggain: Another infamous Gaggan dish is the Lick Me Up, purees on a plate that you're supposed to lick clean. The song in the background is appropriately Kiss' "Lick Me Up."

Gallery: Gonzales' magical meringue-de sal with chicken foam disappears in your mouth just as soon as you pop it in.
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Gaggan: This is how a A-level chef would interpret a samosa. It's absolutely out of this world.

Gallery: A Gallery classic, these ube tacos come with adobo octopus and mango

Gaggan: The challenge is to pop in this nest and egg in one bite. Inside, a refreshing gazpacho.
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Gallery: Here's a brioche bun sandwiching humba. Pinkaurat gives it a nice contrast.

Gaggan: You've never had soup like this. The broth is so deeply flavored that your spirits will lift up after one sip. The idea is for you to drink the soup then pick up the corn and pigeon with your bare hands.
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Gallery: Local ulang with classic bearnaise. We've always been fans of how the chef utilizes upo seeds for added freshness.

Gaggan: This is a cool take on curry. According to Gaggan, curry is a flavor, not a dish. Everything on the plate is raw, fresh, and delicious.

Gallery: This dish, beautifully paired with black garlic, knows how to play up the umami-ness of beef.
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Gaggan: This is a spinach and egg dish inspired by Gaggan's grandmother. The chef cooked it based on his memories.

Gaggan: Dark on white chocolate with bright fresh fruit flavors representing the seasons

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About The Author
Sasha Lim Uy
Managing Editor, EsquireMag.ph
Sasha eats to live and lives to eat. For five years, she handled SPOT.ph's food section and edited the last two installments of its Top 10 Food books. She also recently participated at the Madrid Fusion Manila as curator.
View Other Articles From Sasha
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