Most high-end restaurants consider the tasting menu a piece of art, a definitive showcase of creative culinary craftsmanship. But as with all art, taste is subjective: It’s not always easy to find a multi-dish tasting menu where each and every plate inspires.
One restaurant in the Maldives is adding an element of choice to the gourmet tasting dining experience. As an innovative response to the autocracy that usually comes part and parcel with a dictated tasting menu, Aragu—signature restaurant of the ultra-exclusive and impossibly exquisite Velaa Private Island—has just introduced a personalized approach with their bespoke tasting menus based on each guests’ personal preferences.
Here’s how it works: Guests select from a simple list of about 16 sustainable and quality ingredients from around the world, and then lauded Chef Gaushan de Silva (whose previous stints include working at Noma and as the private chef to the royal family of Jordan) crafts an individual menu based on their favorite things.
“A lot of our guests wanted to enjoy a journey of a variety of flavors in different dishes, so we decided to implement this at Aragu restaurant,” says Chef Gaushan. Diners can choose to do a flight of three or five products out of an ever-changing list of around sixteen products, which range from the local (Maldivian Lobster; Island Coconut; or Line-Caught Reef Fish) to the foreign (Tasmanian Ocean Trout; Bresse Chicken; or Japanese Saga A5 Tenderloin).
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The ingredients are sourced from a vast and exceptional network of both local and global suppliers. “I get the luxury of being able to import almost any product from anywhere on the planet. Most hotels do not have this luxury.” Of course, being in the remote Maldives presents some challenges as well. The biggest issue for Chef Gaushan is unsurprisingly the consistency of regular deliveries on a day-to-day basis.
“In a country like the Maldives, where very few things are grown, running a resort with a fine dining restaurant is not an easy task. I must carefully choose ingredients each day, purchase it from around the world and at the end of the day, convert it to a menu in order to present dishes on guests’ tables. Keeping the ingredients fresh and at the same time not losing its real taste is one of the biggest challenges we face on a daily basis.”
Yet the awareness of this challenge only makes what Chef Gaushan does even more impressive. The gastronomic offering at the entire resort is simply unmatched. Alongside Aragu, this pristine boutique paradise also includes Tavaru, a mouthwatering Teppanyaki grill (which shares the same space as the island’s substantial wine cellar) and Athiri, the all-day dining establishment that serves divine dishes from around the world.
Billed as resort built “by a billionaire, for billionaires,” the immaculate Velaa Private Island also boasts over-the-top luxuries like a private submarine (!); the region’s largest wine collection (over 500 bins); an over-water villa accessible only by boat; and even a mind-bogglingly cool snow room in their Spa My Blend by Clarins.
“The best thing about living and working in the Maldives, surrounded by the Indian Ocean, is that it is such an inspirational place to work,” says Chef Gaushan. “The astounding nature, the richness of the ocean… it’s like living in a paradise that you never knew existed and most chefs desire to be able to get this luxury. I was lucky to get the opportunity.”
What’s next for the gorgeous Maldivian resort that already answers all of your wildest dreams? “To be recognized at a Michelin-starred level,” says Chef Gaushan.