Gaggan Anand, chef and owner of progressive Indian restaurant Gaggan in Bangkok swept the top spot at this year’s Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants awards last Monday. His style elevates humble Indian street food into deconstructed dishes, served in a fine dining setting. The Kolkata-born chef tells us more about his win.

How do you feel about your placing?
I’m still overwhelmed. I had tears in my eyes. It is the proudest moment in my life, where you stand in front of chefs like Tetsuya, who’s been around for decades. It’s a feeling I know I can’t control. And these tears, it’s not just mine. You saw my team up there, they’re all young guys, they’re all in tears.

Do you feel this is a triumph for Thailand or India?
I’m lucky because my heart is in India, but my soul is in Thailand. My wife is Thai so I’m half Thai already. I think I’m blessed to be part of two worlds. It’s a proud moment for Indian cuisine itself because Indian cuisine has never been changed before. I can’t tell you if I represent India or Thailand, what I can represent is a chef who wanted to cook his own way.

What was the first thing you did after receiving the awards?
I called my mom immediately. She was scared because she heard me crying. I remember saying, “Mum, I’m number one. I can buy you a new house.” My mum is still very humble and I come from very humble beginnings. I grew up in a one room apartment and the bathroom was 10 metres from my house. I came from a school that no one would send students to. That was my beginning. Those are my memories and as a chef, I protect those memories. That is my food.