It’s true what they say: It can be lonely at the top.
So affirms Indian chef Gaggan Anand who, after claiming the title of best restaurant in Asia for the fourth year in a row for his Bangkok restaurant Gaggan, is asking the academy at Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants awards to take him out of next year’s running and cast their vote for someone else.
In a wide-ranging and frank interview with Fine Dining Lovers, the food blog helmed by event sponsor San Pellegrino, Anand declared before the gala ceremony that should he win the title again for 2018, it would be the last time he takes to the stage to accept the award.
Because after monopolising the spotlight for four years in a row, Anand feels like he’s lost friends to his fame, particularly among former chef pals he used to hang out with at the event who no longer return his smiles.
“I want my friends back, I don’t want to make 49 enemies, so I don’t want to be part of this misery,” he said in the interview.
“That’s part of fame, it’s fame’s curse and I think they all should get the curse,” he added smiling.
Anand’s wish to be withdrawn from the list echoes some chefs’ recent reactions to being crowned by the Michelin guide, which likewise turns chefs into overnight stars and fills up dining rooms months in advance.
Over the last few years, several high-profile chefs, notably France’s Sebastian Bras of Le Suquet in Aveyron, have asked to be stripped of their stars, citing the unsustainable pressure of churning out three Michelin-starred meals every night.
Though it’s unclear if pulling out of the awards is an option next year, Anand will get his wish in 2020, when he shutters the restaurant Gaggan for good and uproots to Japan to open a new restaurant.
Anand won’t be abandoning Bangkok completely: He will be part owner of a tofu restaurant, wine bar, and a Thai restaurant in the city.
The plan for Japan is to open a 10-seat eatery in Fukuoka that will open alternately – one month on, one month off – a strategy aimed at averting burn-out, and allowing the chef to spend more time with his family.
To thank his fans, the chef said he also plans to release a cookbook that will be available online for free, on the last day of Gaggan.
“I’ve decided my book will go online on the last day of my restaurant as a free gift to the world.” – AFP Relaxnews