Mandala Club's Second Chef-In-Residence Brings The Drama
A Magazine Singapore|December 2021 - The Dream Issue
Mandala Club’s second chef-in-residence brings the drama as he shares his ideas with Shamilee Vellu.
Shamilee Vellu.

Gaggan Anand is showing me his socks. One leg hoicked up on a chair, he’s grinning, eagerly, waiting for me to see the giant red “F*** You” encircling his calves. So far, so Gaggan. The chef is well known for being a provocateur par excellence, delighting and frustrating diners in equal measure (just see the many articles arguing for and against his alleged brilliance). Now in Singapore to helm Mandala Club’s second fine-dining pop-up, his outsized reputation led to all 5,000 seats selling out within three hours of release. Anand’s residency will now be extended to the end of March 2022.

“We discussed everything online starting in March this year, and then things in Singapore were going through this roller coaster and Ben (Jones, Mandala Club’s founder) and I just said, ‘Either we do it or we don’t’,” says Anand. “So we started planning, mobilising people, getting the designs done, and we just created this fantasy world.”

And will this fantasy world be different from his restaurant in Bangkok, I ask?

“Singapore can be very stiff,” says Anand, “with all the bankers and lawyers. But at Mandala Club, you get both sides, like you have the cool guy with the Star Wars shirt and then you get the guy with the latest luxury watch. It’s like the difference between Manhattan’s Upper West Side and Brooklyn. I wanted to bring both worlds together.”

Anand, 43, has certainly seen both sides of success. The upside is well known — his star went supernova after he was featured on Netflix’s Chef’s Table and instantly became the most famous Indian chef in the world. His Bangkok restaurant, Gaggan, became a vital stop for deep pocketed foodies the world over. He continues to be divisive, sounding off enthusiastically on veganism (“It’s a fad, like the Manson family”), truffle fries (“It’s crap, it’s abuse”) and chicken tikka (“It’s a disaster”). Love him or hate him, the one thing you can’t do is ignore him. At his restaurant, Anand forcefully collides the worlds of food, art and personality, making diners lick food offtheir plates in his famous “Lick It Up” dish, eat offcones mounted on their middle fingers and read menus entirely composed of emojis. His Gaggan Anand restaurant debuted at fifth position on Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants, earning the Highest New Entry award. The coffee-obsessed chef has also just launched a new cafe called CDGRE in Bangkok’s Siam Paragon, for which he’s in charge of sourcing the world’s best beans.

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