Novelty of Good Food

Published: 17th October 2015 10:00 PM  |   Last Updated: 16th October 2015 12:50 AM   |  A+A-


magandeep.jpgRecently, Gaggan Anand, the famed chef who has put Indian cuisine on the map through his eponymous restaurant in Bangkok, was in town yet again. Yet again, there was a near shuffle amidst much kerfuffle as the wangling for a coveted seat for his dinner continued. Egos must have clashed as one can only imagine, and the hosts—AMEX, if I recall—must have had sleepless nights trying to appease and accommodate as many Centurion members as they could fit into the cosy Four Seasons meeting space, not-so-aptly christened, the Mansion.

I too had a seat, on multiple evenings, owing mainly (rather, only) to influential friends who will take an inexplicable pity to my plight, or because the cocky-to-the-world-but-humble-with-friends Gaggan managed to clear up a cover for me. Nothing sadder than the fact that I was unable to make any of the seatings.

But I do hope for the sake of the diners who did attend that they managed to see beyond the prestige quotient of such a dinner. I can only pray that the people weren’t enthralled by merely Gaggan, the personality and the star-chef imagery, but managed to focus their undivided attention on each plate of every course, and all the imagination and work that went into creating every one of them. For that is what Gaggan is truly about: a nerd obsessed with the culinary arts and one whose childlike imagination and bug-eyed curiosity never let him rest for a moment without trying to concoct new ways to confuse the diner by obscuring the obvious. Unlike many a molecular endeavour, he is purely a chef but with a science set for a hobby, one that he allows himself to dive into to assist him in achieving what he has already imagined and envisioned, and not the other way round.

But Gaggan for me isn’t about molecular, he is all about the spectacular. And when you are putting up a spectacle, one that isn’t served only at one stationary joint, but trotted around the world like a prized pedigree, there is a risk that it’s sparkle can grow lukewarm. Once people know what that sphere will taste like or how a certain dish was deconstructed, they won’t see the novelty the third time around. Unlike a simple tikka or tandoori place which can keep reproducing the same dish for decades and not lose its sheen, Gaggan needs to find ways to always be ahead of the curve. So when he decided to come back with such a short hiatus in between, it speaks volumes of his repertoire as a chef as also of his confidence to ensure that the event wont be seen as a re-run.

Luckily for him, the room could barely fit 40 or so diners, so the novelty was duly maintained. When I scanned the menu I realised that it was almost entirely untried for me. So once again, I hope the lucky AMEX invitees were astute enough to see beyond the glamour of the dinner and comprehend the enormity of effort behind it.

As for me, I am still to try his new menu, but between applying for a centurion card, proving my eligibility for it and then jostling for a seat for this dinner next time, it would be much simpler to just fly to Bangkok and visit my friend on his turf.


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