Thai cash floats Michelin guide

BANGKOK, 13 March 2017: Michelin Guides arrive on Thailand’s varied and exotic dining scene and the government’s decision to seed the project with a USD4.1 million grant raises a few eyebrows and a chorus of dismay from foodie tourism critics.

Understandably, the government is keen to exploit Thailand’s success that has placed its devilishly hot, spicy cuisine top-of-the-table in almost every capital city, worldwide. It’s a success story that is now justifiably the pride of Thailand’s chefs and restaurateurs, who spent decades striving to elevate Thai cuisine to become an international brand without a dime’s support from government.

Now Michelin has dropped by to pick up the cheque and frankly it might be resented, or seen as a waste of public funding.

But to its credit when it made a similar move in Singapore it honoured the artisans of street food in the plush city state. It was not all about six or five-star expensive dining.

Does Thailand’s iconic food experience need a helping hand from Michelin?

Well there is always the age-old saying that claims a prophet in his own country has no honour, a reference to foreign experts always attracting more attention than the local variety. But in this case we have to look at Michelin’s track record and  its delivery of added value and  an undeniable ability to improve brand reputation. It is a without doubt a winner so why not exploit a synergy of winners such as Thailand’s vast range of exotic dishes through a partnership with a renowned guide?

But transparency  must be guaranteed when you drop a kitty of goodies on the lap of a commercial venture, especially when its taxpayers’ money.

I don’t think the Ministry of Tourism and Sports has explained the contract details adequately. But we will continue to enjoy Thailand’s fantastic variety of spicy food without a thought for Michelin. We all have our secret haunts where amazing Thai food is stirred fried in the pan. We share them on Facebook not Michelin. Facebook is more likely to be the dominant platform driving food promotion and it is free.


  1. This is a disgraceful waste of taxpayers’money. No doubt the TAT mafia will be feted and fed around the world. The simple fact is Thai food doesn’t need this introduction. I question the transparency of these kind of agreements, especially after the shocking disclosures by Rolls Royce in a court of law that incriminated former TG executives.

  2. Thai food has been well established internationally since TAT was founded as Thailand’s first government tourism promotion organization in the 1960s. TAT has always promoted Thai food strongly and continuously and with the full support of many government organisations namely Ministry of Commerce, Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Ministry of Culture. We don’t need to gain services from Michelin to assist us for more Thai food promotion. It’s already well established and Thai tourism is increasing with high growth rate. Why do we have to lose our precious budget? And we must realize that many other countries also gain the benefit from our Thai food promotions because many countries also produce and export Thai food materials and ingredients both intermediate and ready-made goods and on top of that the owners and cooks of Thai restaurants overseas who are not Thai also gain more advantage from this high cost project. Thais must believe in Thais. We can achieve our goals with our own efforts and determination.

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