Goa 2019: Wining & Dining to Winners & Dinners
Hot aromatic spices meticulously blended together using traditional cooking methods has earned Indian cuisine respect from all corners of the universe. Over the years this has brought many Indian chefs into the limelight through recognition, such as Michelin stars for their fine dining restaurant or receiving a reward such as a Conde Nast Top Restaurant award.
When most of us think of food, nostalgic thoughts race through our mind of our mother carefully packing culinary delights into our tiffin, or cooking a wholesome lunch and dinner on our return from School. It is safe to say that women have brought a lot of innovation to the cooking practices in India. So it was pleasing to see Chef Garima Arora, of GAA restaurant, Bangkok finally break the glass ceiling and become the first Indian woman to achieve Michelin stars for her restaurant in 2018.
Michelin Stars work on a rating system, where one star means that ‘the restaurant is very good in its category’, two stars means that ‘the restaurant produces excellent cooking that is worth a detour’ and three stars means that ‘the cuisine deserves a special journey’. As most tourists are on a special journey when they come to Goa, the stakes are high within the restaurant industry. In the absence of Michelin stars in India, other reputed awards are coming into prominence.
In the case of the Conde Nast Traveller and Himalayan Sparkling Top 50 Indian Restaurant awards, the criteria are premium restaurants that are defined as ‘an upscale dining establishment with table service, enjoyable ambience and superior quality food.’ Restaurants that have been running for more than six months can apply to be shortlisted for the awards. Over 300 restaurants from across the country are shortlisted by five judges. The first phase involves selecting the top 100 restaurants, which is done by a group of 100 food critics, influencers and food writers who travel around the country sampling the best food. This list is then pruned down to 50 by a panel of judges and these premium restaurants are declared the winners.
In the inaugural 2017 edition, seven restaurants from Goa were included in the top 50. This December, ten restaurants from Goa made it to the top 50 list. This is encouraging, as ten is a sizable number for such a small state like a Goa. With Goa being a top tourist destination, let’s hope more restaurants with innovative gastronomic philosophies can break into that list in 2019.
Photo Courtesy: Peep Kitchen