Mattanee Booncharoen, a Nigerian-based Thai woman, and Founder/CEO, Orchid House Restaurant, has become one of the few restaurant operators across the world to receive the Thai Select Premium certification.
Booncharoen was handed the certificate, a document that identifies restaurants who serve authentic Thai cuisines across the world, last week, by Thailand’s Ambassador to Nigeria, Wattana Kunwongse, after a tour of the two-year-old restaurant in Lagos.
“I feel that this is the home of our people. I don’t feel alienated. I am, right now, standing in another country while still in Nigeria. I feel that I am home. It’s a very beautiful setting,” Kunwongse said after the tour.
Speaking elatedly to Vanguard after receiving the endorsement certificate, Booncharoen, popularly referred to as ‘Tukie’, who has lived in Nigeria for more than 20 years, said: “Nigeria is like my country already.”
She went on: “The first branch of Orchid was opened in Apapa and things were excellent for the first year until the port city’s traffic gridlock caught up with us. I decided to set up another branch in Victoria Island. The ‘Thai Select Premium’ certification comes barely four months after opening the second restaurant.”
Since the 1960s, Thai cuisine has become a global sensation, driving demand across continents. There exists an estimated 15,000 Thai restaurants around the world. However, due to the cuisine’s surging popularity, many restaurateurs try to attract customers by naming their business ‘Thai Restaurant’, even when they do not have Thai food on their menus.
Recognising this situation and the importance of maintaining high standard and quality of Thai food, the Royal Thai Government launched the “Thai Select” programme, with the aim of certifying and promoting restaurants that serve authentic Thai cuisines across the world. This is so that Thai food lovers only need to look out for the ‘Thai Select’ stamp of approval to confirm they are getting authentic Thai service.