Garima Arora is a Michelin Masterchef. As a matter of fact, India's first female chef to earn the top honour in the culinary world (back in 2018). The awards just kept on coming as she was named Asia’s best female Chef of 2019 and added another feather to her cap with the 2022 MICHELIN Guide Young Chef Award. Continuing to earn global recognition, she today is the proud owner of Restaurant Gaa, a Modern Indian fine dining restaurant situated in a traditional Thai house in the heart of Bangkok. Its menu in its many little bites, combines traditional Indian cooking techniques with local ingredients, to take one through a journey into the heart of India in a new and unexpected way.
In an exclusive chat with Bazaar India, Arora talks about her love for cooking and food, how travel has influenced her culinary choices, the idea behind her restaurant, and much more.
Harper’s Bazaar: How did your journey with food start?
Garima Arora: Coming from a Punjabi family, my journey started at our dinner table at home. Food has always been a big part of my family, somebody is always cooking or eating—it’s just how we grew up.
HB: Share your earliest memory of cooking.
GA: My dad used to travel a lot when I was a kid and return with ingredients and recipes that we would try together. I recall sitting by him in the kitchen and watching him cook, he’s the kind of person who does things thoroughly and earnestly, and those are some of the things that stuck with me.
HB: What kind of stories are you telling through your food?
GA: The story of India. We are located in Thailand, using a mix of Thai ingredients blended with Indian techniques. We constantly try to push the boundaries of what’s possible with Indian cuisine. I strongly feel that there are so many ideas within India’s culinary heritage that give chefs like me a chance to explore Asian ingredients anew.
HB: How have your travels influenced your culinary experience?
GA: It’s always exciting to see something new at first, but it also makes you cherish what you already have. The
biggest lesson I’ve learned from tasting food around the world is an appreciation for my own cuisine.
HB: How does it feel to be the first Indian female chef to receive a Michelin star?
GA: I never think of it from the lens of gender. I understand that young girls feel motivated, knowing they can do it
too, and I appreciate that. I’ve always done what came naturally to me. For me, it’s just part of life.
HB: What’s the next big food trend you see emerging in the Indian F&B industry?
GA: I think hyper-regional. It’s interesting to delve into this need to look inward for inspiration, exotic flavours, experimental cuisines, and rich dining experiences. When I’m searching for a new flavour or ingredient, I want to go back to India and not anywhere else in the world.
HB: What was your idea behind the launch of Gas?
GA: To showcase Indian cuisine and techniques using Thailand as a backdrop, to demonstrate what’s possible with Indian food. We only have a tasting menu, so when you sit down we want you to experience the whole unique culinary journey with us.
HB: Tell us about your Food Forward India initiative.
GA: After receiving the Michelin star, it was a right time to shift our focus on India, and that’s when the NGO, Food Forward India was born. The goal is to create a centre of knowledge for food, which taps into our culinary experiences and bridges Indian understanding with a global perspective.