Life is Good

Gaggan Anand, Chef of Asia's Best Restaurant, Cooks Last Meal in the Philippines

He says he will never cook outside his home turf again.
IMAGE YVETTER FERNANDEZ; COURTESY
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It was Gaggan Anand’s last time ever to cook a meal in the Philippines.


“Enjoy the last dish I will ever cook in this restaurant, or in the Philippines,” said Anand as he served us a chocolate dessert splashed with rainbow colors.


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Anand is the man behind his namesake restaurant Gaggan in Bangkok that is number 5 on the list of The World’s 50 Best Restaurants, named the Best Restaurant in Asia for four years in a row. Anand was recently in the Philippines to prepare a four-hands dinner and lunch with Chele Gonzalez of Gallery by Chele, twice named Best Restaurant in the Philippines by the same group.

Earlier this year, Anand announced that he will be closing Gaggan for good in 2020, and will be opening a small hotel in Fukuoka, Japan that will be open only half the year. He says he will no longer cook outside his own kitchens again.


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Anand's dessert had a prism of chocolate and a burst of color as its centerpiece.

“The dark side is made with chocolate and bitter coffee. If you go to the white side you will taste the sweetness because the milk offsets the cappuccino,” Anand said. “In Bangkok, like in Manila, there are four summers. Hot, hotter, hottest… and hell. In the summer, you can see the rainbow any time of the year. And this rainbow, when you go to the dark side, you taste the rainbow and the acidity and the fruitiness and all the darkness and the bitterness of the chocolate. And when you’re done with that, it will look exactly like when you and your daughter started to paint for the first time. It will be psychedelic.”


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Anand’s language is as colorful as his dishes, punctuated by the F-bomb and other four-letter words. He makes sexual references matter-of-factly, calling the food notes he encourages diners to write down on a card, “ a G-string, a seductive way to entice your mind to eat and enjoy.”

“The emotions of every dish are described via emojis, the universal language,” said Anand, speaking loudly above the din of the rock music blasting all throughout the meal. “What I want you to do is take a pencil and write down your memories of every dish, and that is what you will take back home. Your memories.”

These, in no particular order, were my memories.

“Lick It  Up” by Kiss set the mood for this signature dish by Anand. 


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I hadn’t licked my plate since I was a child, and I remember how naughty it made me feel since I knew it was forbidden. This dish made me feel like I was breaking the rules, and was surprisingly quite empowering. The dish was hot and spicy and made me tingle all over.

This disk of yogurt by Anand exploded in my mouth with a creamy sourness. Boom.


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Loved Gonzalez's meaty river prawn mixed with the crunchiness of upo seeds and the creaminess of the aioli. I could eat this every day.


Luxe bistik Tagalog by Gonzalez with just the right tartness, hefty yet tender, brought back childhood memories of summer days with my cousins.


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A vegetarian egg by Anand. In a nest of starch. No little birds’ lives snuffed out. 


Seafood and nori comfort by Gonzalez.


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Liver and meringue. Two of my Dad's favorite things. Who would’ve thought the would work together? Anand did. What a novel way to mix savory and sweet.


Our meal’s soundtrack included songs by Eric Clapton, Extreme, Guns N’Roses, KISS, and Queen, of course.


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Anand was in town as part of Serie Kulynaria, a series of collaborative dinners with some of the world’s best culinary talents put together by Gonzalez.

The last of the collaborative meals at Gallery by Chele will take place on December 17 and 18 with chef Julien Royer of Odette in Singapore.

Life is good.

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Yvette Fernandez
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