0648 GMT March 21, 2018
The first Thai halal food festival in Iran is underway at Parsian Azadi Hotel in the capital, Tehran.
Titled ‘Thai Food Festival: Amazing Tastes of Thailand,’ the event was inaugurated at the Orchid International Restaurant of the hotel on September 12, and will be open to visitors until September 18.
Those interested in tasting Thai food, or learning more about the country’s cuisine, can either go to the festival for lunch, between 12:30 and 15:30 hrs., or for dinner from 20:00 to 23:00 hrs.
The event has been organized by the Royal Thai Embassy in Tehran, in cooperation with the Department of International Trade Promotion (DITP) – the foremost agency of the Thai Ministry of Commerce – Tourism Authority of Thailand and Thai Airways.
The food items served at the festival are prepared by the chefs of one of the greatest and classiest restaurants in the Thai capital of Bangkok, the Blue Elephant Cooking School and Restaurant.
Speaking to Iran Daily on the sidelines of the festival, Founding Partner and Director of Blue Elephant Cooking School and Restaurant, Nooror Somany-Steppe, said this is the first time she has travelled to Iran and that she finds Iran very nice, and its people very friendly.
She said all the vegetables she uses in the foods she cooks in Thailand, such as eggplants, coriander, onion and garlic, are also sold in Iranian markets.
Somany-Steppe said Tehran is very similar to Bangkok, only more crowded.
On the main goals of the festival, she said the event is aimed at promoting Thai foods in Iran, as Thai cuisine constitutes a major part of the Southeast Asian country’s culture, and Iranians would very much like to visit Thailand.
Somany-Steppe added that her restaurant has another branch in Phuket Island.
On another reason for holding the festival, she said that considerable effort is underway by the Tourism Authority of Thailand and the country’s government to promote Thai cuisine because the move helps support farmers in the Southeast Asian country.
Somany-Steppe said there are a large number of Muslims in Thailand, and that is why many halal foods are served at her restaurant.
Commenting on this, chef Nooror’s daughter and the chef and director of the international relations of Blue Elephant Cooking School and Restaurant, Sandra Steppe, said a large number of tourists from the member states of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations visit Thailand every year; they are all Muslims, to whom halal food is very important.
Somany-Steppe said that all the halal foods served at her restaurant are certified by Thailand’s Muslim Community, which controls the products from her restaurant’s factory every month.
She noted that many famous people, including the 43rd US president, George W. Bush, and Russian President Vladimir Putin have eaten at her restaurants, saying that she is very proud that her restaurant has always been a destination for the VIP, such as foreign ministers and celebrities.
Commenting on this, her daughter said chef Nooror is like a brand ambassador for Thai cuisine. “When heads of states and royal families come to Thailand, they know that they can have premium products and foods at the Blue Elephant.
Chef Nooror’s daughter listed some of the famous people who have eaten at her mother’s restaurant as Queen Mathilde of Belgium, members of the Royal Thai family, the son of Japan’s Emperor Akihito, and Salma Ansari, the wife of India’s vice president.
Somany-Steppe said she had tried a number of Iranian foods and that she liked them very much.
She added that from the feedback she has received from Iranian visitors to the festival, she realized that they do not like spicy Thai food.
Some 15 different Thai foods will be served every day during the festival.