“The only way to judge your team and your restaurant these days is to see what’s being said about it on social media,” says Gaggan Anand, who’s reclining in a soft armchair in the China Club. The chef-owner of his eponymous Indian restaurant in Bangkok was in town only briefly, meeting up with chef friends and cooking at the Hong Kong Wine & Dine Festival in Central. We managed to steal him away for half an hour in the morning, during which time we subjected him to what was probably one of his more unusual interviews to date.
What better way to challenge a chef known for producing an emoji-only tasting menu—one that he describes as modern art—than to get him to answer a series of 30 questions using the tiny icons? Watch the video above to see how Gaggan did, then flip through the gallery below to see how he decoded them for us.
1. Describe yourself
It’s a happy devil. That’s me.
2. What’s the one thing that defines your cooking?
People are surprised when they come to my restaurant.
3. Indian food in a nutshell?
It’s very Indian.
4. Best comment about your restaurant?
They gave me a kiss.
5. And the worst?
6. What did you have for breakfast?
I had dim sum, actually. But there's no emoji for that.
7. What did you want instead?
Eggs. I wanted a fried egg. Sunny-side up.
8. What’s your perception of HK?
9. What surprised you most about HK?
The tea. I love tea.
10. Best hangover cure?
11. Noodles or pasta?
12. Art or music?
Rock music. Progressive rock, mainly. Pink Floyd, Daft Punk, Foo Fighters, Nirvana. I cried when Kurt Cobain died.
13. Describe Ferran Adria
My church. My Vatican.
14. Describe Jiro Ono
Because so many people want to meet him. To me, he’s someone who has dedicated his life to make people happy.
15. Your favourite food destination?
16. The one thing you can eat every day
A bento. I can eat this every day. Or anything with rice, really.
17. That feeling when you try something you’ve never tasted before
I put sushi because it was something I hated when I was young, but I had an epiphany seven years ago when I was in Tokyo.
18. How you react when someone serves you a terrible dish
I cry. Inside.
19. One skill you wish you had
I’d love to be a hairdresser. When you go to a hair salon, it’s a place of gossip. And I love gossip. It’s the most social place in the world. You know everyone’s private life in 5 minutes.
20. The best thing about being a chef?
Chillis. Because I love them and as a chef I can handle them. Spice is about the delivery of flavour, not heat.
21. The hardest part of being a chef
Cooking ants [laughs]
22. Something that has inspired you recently
Lemons. I love citrus. Every country you go to has a different kind—it’s the most amazing thing. I don’t know what I’d do without acidity and freshness—being in a tropical country, it’s so important.
23. What’s the last book you read?
I can’t tell.
24. What should be your baby’s first food word?
25. Favourite way to cook an egg?
26. What’s always in your fridge?
Chocolates. In every form. I love collecting chocolates from different parts of Japan, whether it’s a Royce to the latest Kit Kat flavour to the yuzu peel chocolates.
27. The reasons why you’re opening in Japan in 2020?
It’s a long list: The food. The sake. Everything about it. The perfection the food. You can’t be bored of their cuisine. It’s the only cuisine you can eat every day.
28. Your most overused emoji?
29. Your mood right now
30. The Gaggan of the future
I’m a guy who can’t be serious in life. And that’s why I did a menu of emoji. It was the funniest thing I’ve ever done.
Read more: Gaggan shows us how to make Alchemist's Cake