Chef Garima Arora just became the first Indian woman to win a Michelin star.
Her Bangkok restaurant Gaa, which opened in April 2017, quickly earned praise for Arora’s tasty and artful mix of Indian and Thai cuisine and has now earned one coveted Michelin star in the Michelin Guide Bangkok, Phuket and Phang-Nga 2019.
One popular dish on her tasting menu brings together grilled unripe jackfruit, roti and homemade pickles. Unripe jackfruit is popular in India, but the roti is made with the ripe version of the fruit, more popular in Thailand.
Gaa is right near the two Michelin-star restaurant, Gaggan, run by another celebrated Indian chef, Gaggan Anand.
Arora said there should be no shortage of star chefs coming from India.
“We are a population of one billion with food culture that is centuries old,” said Arora in an email to CNN. “In my opinion, we should be making food trends, not following them. The best chefs and restaurants of the world should be from India.”
Arora grew up in Mumbai and drew inspiration early on from her Punjabi family, particularly her father, who loved bringing home exotic foods.
She started her career as a journalist but was quickly drawn to cooking.
“I have always had in the back of my mind that someday I would like to have a restaurant of my own,” said Arora. “But after 6 months working as a journalist, I began to realize that I probably should get on with it since, to be quite honest, cooking is a young person’s game.”
She studied at Le Cordon Bleu in Paris before working her way through stints with the UK’s Gordon Ramsay and René Redzepi of Noma in Copenhagen.
Arora moved to Bangkok to work with Anand, but the plan fell through leaving her in Thailand. Anand and three other investors then offered Arora a chance to start her own venture.
Gaggan and Gaa are now two of 27 Michelin-starred restaurants in Bangkok and Phuket recognized in the new guide. Ten new spots made the list including Gaa, Canvas, PRU and Suan Thip.
“This year’s guide is a reflection of the growing talent in Thailand’s culinary scene with many new restaurants added to the selection, including 13 specializing in Thai food, reinforcing Thailand’s reputation as a go-to destination for gastronomy,” said Gwendal Poullennec, International Director of the Michelin Guides, in a statement on their website.