Eating/Drinking

Staff Food at Gaggan

You're a foodie whose been to more Michelin-starred restaurants than you can count. But do you ever wonder what these talented chefs feed their hard working staffs? We went to Gaggan to find out.

November 30, 2016
Preparing staff meals, and with the staff’s highly international make up.

At Gaggan, the first staff members start to trickle in sometime after noon. Meat needs marinating, tables need setting, and liquids need “spherification”. The last order is at 10pm and before guests have sat through the 15+ dishes on the various set menus, it’s well past midnight. Followers of @gaggan on IG will know that the team regularly engages in post-service shenanigans: assuming that the staff meal is the first of the day for some is probably not too far off.

Staff members take turns deciding on and preparing staff meals, and with the staff’s highly international make up (at least eight different nationalities at present) meals are varied, to say the least. Sometimes cupboards and coolers are raided and creativity runs wild; other times a carefully prepared grocery list is brought to Villa. On the day we visit, Gaggan cooks pasta.

“Who wants spicy?” he shouts in the kitchen, barely audible over the rock music that blasts from a Bose speaker in the corner. A show of hands and Gaggan gets to work.

It's a lesson in multitasking; in between sending one colleague to Villa for bacon and Italian basil and asking another to find him an eggplant and some miso paste from the cooler, Gaggan controls the music, boils water for the pasta, and exchanges texts on his phone with one of his senior staff, who is in Japan and will bring him back an Apple Watch. Once in a while, he stops to take photos of his progress.

At the end, all of the ingredients for Gaggan's pasta dish are laid out on the table: dried pasta, red onions, eggplants, green chillies, ginger, basil, bacon, and a bag of miso paste. On the side are a bottle of sesame oil and half a bottle of white wine.

By now, the kitchen is starting to get really busy. It's around three o'clock and the evening's service is being prepared. People are receiving deliveries, wrapping things up, cooling stuff down. Gaggan takes up almost half the counter space of the entire kitchen but excuses himself by turning the music up extra loud. Then he cuts the onion, chillies, and eggplants into pieces “whichever way you like” and the bacon and ginger into strips, and boils the pasta. Into the pan go oil, bacon, eggplant, onion, ginger and chilli (in that order). While it sizzles, Gaggan cuts the basil, takes a couple of pictures, and drains the pasta. We discuss the up-coming World's 50 Best Restaurants awards in London (he just jumped seven places to number 10), the attractive young men in his kitchen (many), and the chances of him opening an Italian restaurant (low).

A shame, really, because the pasta was pretty darn good!

The Recipe:
• 2 red onions
• 8 slices of bacon
• 1 or 2 green chillies (depending on taste)
• 20g ginger
• 1 small eggplant
• 1 handful of basil leaves
• Miso paste (to taste)
• White wine
• Water
• 50ml sesame oil
• 20ml vegetable oil (for the pan)

Instructions:
Boil the pasta according to the instructions on the package. Drain and mix well with sesame oil. Put aside. Cut the onions, chilli, and bacon to the size of your liking. Cut the eggplant into pieces of roughly two by two evstimetres. Cut the ginger into thin strips and cut basil leaves roughly.

Heat the vegetable oil in a pan over medium heat. Add bacon and stir for a couple of minutes. Add the eggplant and stir a bit more. Then add onion, ginger, and chilli and stir well for a few minutes. Add miso paste to taste and mix well. Add a bit of water so it doesn't burn.

The mixture should be a bit wet but not liquid. Add pasta and turn heat down to low. Stir. Add a splash of white wine and let the pasta soak it up. Add more miso if  needed. Finish with a sprinkle of  basil leaves and serve in whatever is clean without much further ado.