Aragu is where the ambiance celebrates the ocean, the piano fills the conversation and the cuisine unites the East with the West to create unforgettable culinary memories. With Executive Chef Gaushan Da Silva at the helm, diners embark on a multi-sensory gastronomic experience, where passion for the culinary craft, sustainably-sourced ingredients and a picturesque seaside setting are fused to create ever-lasting moments of enjoyment. Gaushan tells FOUR more…
What inspired you to become a chef?
My passion for cooking started from childhood, cooking for my family with strict supervision from my beloved grandmother. This eventually led me into turn my passion into a career path.
I am lucky to have had many talented and kind individuals from all walks of life greatly enhance and enrich my culinary knowledge throughout my career. These are the most important people, the people who constantly give me the best source of inspiration.
It is the generosity of the countless individuals that I met along the way who exposed me to different cultures and foods around the globe, who introduced me to the most unique yet finest ingredients and who gave me the opportunity to improve my skills with some of the best international chefs, that has had a significant impact on my cooking up to this point.
How would you describe your cooking style?
I am fascinated by classic soul food of the yore. I spend a lot of time learning, studying, reimagining and reconstructing these classic dishes with a modern approach. The craftmanship of classic European cuisine and Asian cuisine are two of the common culinary repertoires that influence my cooking.
What is your culinary philosophy and how do you translate this onto the plate at Aragu?
I focus on three main things: simplicity, respecting the taste of the main ingredient and the quality of cooking. I also like to incorporate unexpected flavours into my cooking.
Tell us about Aragu, what is the approach to food, what is the menu concept and what inspires the dishes?
Aragu’s motto is all about simplicity; using the freshest sustainable ingredients; respecting clean and intriguing flavours and incorporating both classic with a modern techniques into the cooking process. We aim to create a deeply-satisfying dining experience.
What does fine dining mean to you, and how is this reflected in the cuisine at Aragu?
Today fine dining in Maldives is no longer the same as it was previously. It is not about the most expensive ingredients, foreign waiters and international sommeliers. It is about sustainable gastronomy with exceptional satisfaction garnered from the food, service and ambiance.
Sustainability is not only derived from the food perspective, but also from genuinely supporting the local or organic suppliers in order to develop and cultivate local talents in all aspects of the restaurant, from the kitchen to the dining floor and sommeliers. This is today’s fine dining in the Maldives.
Describe the creative journey of your dishes from conception to execution?
The classic culinary repertoire, the times, the places and the people around me inspire me in conceptualizing Aragu’s menu. Aragu’s cuisine is also based on the terroir concept, which is all about respecting the season and location in which the produce is grown.
What are some of your favorite ingredients to use at Aragu?
For, chefs seasoning is key. Salt is a unique flavour enhancer and good chefs understand the importance of using salt during, as well as after, cooking. They will taste as they go and add as much as they can without turning the dish salty.
Do you have a favorite or signature dish at Aragu?
Tuna Egg Yolk is one of my favorite dishes from the “Taste of Maldives” set menu, which is as locally composed as it possibly can be with yellowfin tuna from the surrounding ocean and a local egg yolk cooked to perfection.
Do you source most of your products locally?
I’ve sourced produce “locally” as much as possible, so as to minimize the energy used in production, transport, and storage. We must support local fishermen as well as sustainable agriculture from nearby islands in an effort to develop the communities in a fair and sustainable manner.
Tell us about the wine selection at Aragu and how this is used to enhance the dining experience?
Our wine list has embraced the same philosophy as the culinary offering. It is not only selected for the way it pairs seamlessly with the food, but it is also sourced from producers who share our goal of being sustainable, individual and expressing the terroir of the vineyards and the vision of its producers. Therefore, our wine lists consists of a collection of rare gems not found anywhere else in the Maldives.
What do you think are the key elements that make Aragu a must-visit dining destination for foodies?
With worldly connoisseurs as our guests, this demands nothing but the best, however, uniqueness is paramount.
What do you hope diners will enjoy most about dining at Aragu?
Aragu offers a level of cuisine that rivals the very best restaurants in the top cities of the world. Many guests don’t expect this level of cuisine, and they are very pleasantly surprised.
Tell us about your plans for Aragu in the future?
We are in the process of developing some new dishes that will be added to the menu shortly, but without sharing too much information in advance, we would love for you to personally come and experience them.
To find out more about Aragu and Velaa Private Island Maldives, visit their website.