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Transglobal Tastes of Thailand

Gastronomic experiences, from around the global, have long been available in cosmopolitan cities around the world. Whether it be the cuisines of France, Italy, China, India or Mexico international travellers have had their culinary journeys enriched and extended by being able to enjoy exotic fare in their home country. Likewise, the "armchair traveller" has had the world brought to him on a plate!

Over the past decade or so, the aromatic, spicy cuisine of Thailand has been springing up in more and more places Hong Kong to Hamburg, Melbourne to Manchester, Wellington to Washington and so on. Thai restaurants, with properly managed kitchens and presentations, have proved a runaway success to the delight of millions of diners. The food is light, very healthy, spicy (though not necessarily hot) and a feast for the eyes as well as the palate.

Thai people, migrating to other countries, have been to the forefront in establishing restaurants and bringing their taste sensations to the world. Here, at home in Thailand, the Department of Export Promotion has always supported such overseas development and has recently produced some interesting statistics about Thai restaurants abroad. For example, there are now more than 5,000 Thai restaurants in countries outside of Thailand in excess of 2,000 are dotted around the United States, while Australia has over 500 (marvellous, considering the relatively small population of Australia) and Japan hosts 300 Thai eateries. Supplying these restaurants with authentic ingredients is a major, and growing, industry. Each year, Thailand exports food products currently valued at US$ 6,200 million which find their way to Thai restaurants, gourmet delicatessens and supermarket shelves. These foods include canned goods (fruits, soups, concentrated pastes), frozen seafood (Thailand is the world's biggest producer of export quality prawns), fresh fruit, vegetables, herbs and spices.

Of course, with the accepted popularity of Thai cuisine, the Department of Export Promotion recognizes that there is lots of room, and opportunity, for growing the number of Thai restaurants overseas. To this end, they have come up with supportive programs to assist overseas Thai prospective restaurateurs to establish their own "one of" restaurant or to join an existing franchise group. The programs offer "how to" advice from basic restaurant design to required kitchenware, tableware, Thai decor and staff presentation plus all the information needs for authentic Thai foods, spices and condiments. Depending upon what level the restaurateur wishes to operate from 5 Star opulence to fast-food outlets the Department of Export Promotion has three creative styles. Beginning with the elegant and luxurious "Golden Leaf" style, the middle-range is contemporary "Cool Basil" while the "eat-and-go" restaurant is called the "Elephant Jump" style.

The Department of Export Promotion envisages a steady growth of overseas Thai restaurants so that, by the end of year 2003, there will be at least 8,000 Thai eating establishments outside of Thailand. Aside from continuing growth patterns in the United States, Australia, Europe and Japan other market areas are also being addressed. Latin America, the Middle East, Southern Africa and Eastern Europe are being assessed for restaurant opportunities. So, perhaps in the not too distant future, the tangy tastes of Thailand will also be available from Beirut to Bulawayo, from Pretoria to Prague and from Acapulco to Athens. Maybe even Thai chillies to Chile? In the delicious world of Thai cuisine, anything is possible. Aroy Maak Maak!

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