Culinary hero: Indian girl gets a Michelin Star! 

[dropcap]M[/dropcap]ichelin released its much-talked-about guide to Bangkok, Phuket and Phang-nga for 2019 and, with it, India has got its first woman chéf to win a Michelin Star. Mumbai-born chéf Garima Arora’s GAA in Bangkok made it to the list. A ‘first’ that sent a wave of jubilation among people in the F&B industry in India.

On becoming a chéf

Although, I studied to be a journalist, food was a big part of our growing up (I am a Punjabi, after all). And it was actually the men in my family who were the best cooks in the house. I watched my dad come back from his many travels and cook all these exotic dishes in the kitchen and he loved it! On holidays away, an uncle of mine, an avid hunter, would actually go hunting for game and come back with his spoils, which we would all BBQ. My grandfather, on the other hand, although he never cooked, was very particular about the alt39donenessalt39 of his dal and the thickness of the tomato slices in his salad. I guess all of this stuck with me somewhere and I started thinking of food as more than for mere sustenance.

On the Gaa philosophy

When I moved to Thailand, I had a very set idea of what the country would be like. But I was in for a surprise. Beyond Sukhumvit and sprawling malls of the capital city, I discovered a country that had so much in common with my own (India). The religion, the language, the food and the culture all borrow so heavily form our own country, but nobody talks about these striking similarities and shared history of the people. This is what Gaa does. We try to find the connection between the two countries through its cuisines and its flavours and techniques.

On the chéf whom she admires the most: The chéf I admire most is Rene Redzepi. To me, he is the best chéf of our time and Noma the best restaurant without doubt.

Advice for all budding chéfs

Hardwork. There is no substitute for the time you need to spend in the kitchen. No shortcuts for the hours you need to put in in order to become a cook. Forget about fresh, hot meals, weekends with your friends, or holidays with your family. You will probably become the person who yells back pushing a shopping cart through the supermarket.

On getting her first Michelin star

“I’m incredibly humbled and so proud that Restaurant Gaa has been recognised by the esteemed Michelin Guide. It’s such a coveted accolade a restaurant can be granted and I’m delighted that the dedicated efforts of my wonderful team have been recognised by this highly regarded organisation,” says Garima Arora.

(Story by Rupali and Akanksha Dean)