Meet Max Thammaraks, the World Food Travel Association's newest Ambassador in Thailand see more
The World Food Travel Association is pleased to announce our newest Ambassador, Max Thammaraks, from Thailand.
Max was well travelled from a young age; taking holidays and studying abroad from early childhood. His family owns Intco, a bespoke travel business and handling agents for international tour companies, now in its fifth decade of operation. Since taking the helm of the business in 2008, Max has expanded its scope, reach and services to meet the needs of today’s travellers, most recently focusing on food tourism and custom catering. He serves as the company's Managing Director.
“Wherever I go, food and drinks are an integral part of my travel experience,” said Max, a bon vivant, of his passion for food and wines. “Food is of importance to each and every culture and can be instrumental in allowing a visitor to get a taste of a culture and destination.”
Max a certified sommelier who owns a few resorts and restaurants across Thailand. Among them is renowned Wine Casa, an Italian restaurant and wine bar in the family hotel, The Legend Chiang Rai Boutique River Resort & Spa, in Northern Thailand, as well as holding shares in numerous restaurants in Bangkok. “Food, beverages and travel have been my lifelong passion; I grew up with it and therefore I want to promote it and be involved in any way possible.”
We sat down with Max and asked him a few questions about himself, his passions and his plans. Here is what he shared:
WFTA: Max, what does your company Intco do?
Max: We are a premier travel agency with decades of expertise. We specialize in bespoke programs which are tailored to each group’s specific needs.
WFTA: When and how did your interest in food/beverage tourism begin?
Max: I have always had personal interest in food, beverages and travel. Whenever I travel and wherever I go, I find food and drinks to be an integral part of the experience. Food is of importance to each and every culture and can be instrumental in allowing a visitor to get a taste of a culture and destination. As a rule of thumb in wine, “what grows together, goes together”, I find exploring each unique location’s produce, cuisine and beverages fascinating and of course fun; whether it be wine, beer, cocktails or coconut juice.
WFTA: What are your favorite food/beverage destinations and why do you like them?
Max: Bangkok is the epicenter of Thai cuisine where you can find representations from all of Thailand’s culinary regions. What is extraordinary is the sheer diversity which you can find in every corner of the city, ranging from amazing street food stalls to the river market; from Michelin stared restaurants to the best China town in the world with over 200 years of history. Bangkok is also where all the abundant resources from all over Thailand come together in the local markets and restaurants. Of late this has become more and more recognised internationally, as Bangkok’s dining scene is becoming increasingly renowned for its gourmet restaurants and extraordinary bars.
As a fan of French food and wine, Lyon is my food Mecca. It’s hard for me to pick just a couple of gourmet cities, since there are more than a dozen that I love. But if I must, I would have to pick Lyon as France's best gastronomic secret. Lyon is home, or nearby neighbor, to some of France’s finest produce - fish, chicken, pork, cheese, game, meats. It is there that I find joy in the simplest pleasures. A humble bistro and brasserie may pair exquisite local meats and cheeses with a delicious wine from Rhone to create a memorable experience. (If you were to ask my wife, I usually get a bit excited and over indulge whenever I land in Lyon.) While the cuisine often appears simplistic, it is honed to perfection through centuries of passion and on closer inspection, is as cutting edge and sophisticated as any nouvelle cuisine to be found in Paris.
And then San Diego – it is the breeze, the sunshine and the cool vibes of the city which is celebrated in its cuisine. The seafood is fresh, abundant and delicious. It is the capital of craft beer in the U.S and the local wine scene is very interesting with organic wines from the area sitting side by side on the shelf with Mexican wines. Being by the border, the Mexican food there is the best and most authentic in the States. San Diego is also jam packed with exciting districts such as the Glaslamp Quarter, where there are fun activities and cool people to meet all day and all night.
WFTA: Why did you join the World Food Travel Association?
Max: Food, beverages and travel have been my lifelong passion; I grew up with it and therefore I want to promote it and be involved in any way possible. I enjoy meeting with similar minds and learning from them of their food journey and what they have done on their home turf and hopefully I can find inspiration to do something similar with my mine.
WFTA: What can we expect to see next from you or your company? Do you have an upcoming milestone that you would like to share?
Max: I want to expand my company into the food and travel business. We want to further establish ourselves in the catering business and one-of-a-kind food tours.
WFTA: What advice do you have for prospective members of the Association? Why should they join?
Max: The association is well established and has a solid plan to expand in the future. Plus you will meet many great minds in the food and travel business.
WFTA: When you hear the phrase “authentic Thai” what comes to mind?
Max: Nothing is set in stone, nor black and white in Thailand’s rich and varied food scape. There is no absolute, no rigid rule and no definitive text book to follow. Like many other of the world’s great cuisines, Thai cuisine is complex, varied, regional, traditional as well as progressive. And that is what makes it special and exciting; its ability to adapt and adopt. The truth is that many Thai dishes are reinterpreted foreign imports: my favorite ‘krapao kai’ (chicken with Thai basil) originated in China, while some of my favorite desserts were introduced to our Royal courts by the wife of a Portuguese Ambassador over four centuries ago. Thai cuisine as we know it is exciting and constantly changing, never afraid of experimentation, taking chances and being creative.
Welcome, Max. We look forward to hearing more stories from you about Thailand. Interested parties can get in touch with Max through his website here.
Introducing World Food Travel Association Advisory Board Member Livio Colapinto from Italy see more
Livio Colapinto is the co-owner of Zest of Italy, a company founded in 2008 with Kathrin Fehervary that focuses on delivering quality food and wine tours throughout the various regions of Italy. He also serves as a member of the Board of Advisors, and is a Certified Ambassador of, the World Food Travel Association. We spent a few minutes with Livio recently to get to know him better.
Livio was born in Torino, Northern Italy, with Apulian (located Southern Italy) roots and great passion for the cooking of his mother, aunts and grandmothers. At the age of 8, he was cooking his first meal for the family and since then, he has never stopped searching for the best foods.
After his engineering studies and some 7 years of work in finance between London, Zurich and Tokyo, he returned to his origins. He paused his career in international banking to get a Master’s Degree in Food Culture and Communication from the University of Gastronomic Sciences. He was the right-hand of Slow Food founder Carlo Petrini for two years, which prompted him to attend the Slow Food University of Gastronomic Sciences, and supported Oscar Farinetti, with the opening of the original Eataly stores in Italy and Japan. Because of this relationship, Livio was able to invite Oscar to appear on a recent Eat Well, Travel Better podcast produced by our Association.
Livio got started with the World Food Travel Association almost 6 years ago when he penned a chapter, Food & Drink Manufacturing, in the Association’s Have Fork Will Travel book. For Livio, being a part of the World Food Travel Association gives him a broader perspective about the food and beverage tourism industry. He finds the networking one of the most valuable tools the Association offers.
As for his favorite food destinations, Livio has a fondness for Japan, which he obtained when he lived in Tokyo, in 2006, to open the Japan office of Slow Food. Livio is also fascinated by New York City and Los Angeles due his numerous trips there for meetings with food retailers and restaurateurs (think: Nancy Silverton, Eli Zabar), who use Livio’s services to source quality Italian food and beverage products.
As for what’s next for Livio and his company, he’ll be working to develop new travel programs to Italy with both passionate food travelers and foodservice professionals, many of who originate in the USA.
Meet Jane Connelly, our newest Ambassador, in Catalonia see more
The World Food Travel Association is pleased to announce our newest Certified Ambassador, residing in Catalonia, Jane Connelly. Jane is American and has been living in Spain for 7 years. We got together with Jane to get to know her better.
Jane is a Seattle native whose hungry stomach and passion for a career in food tourism led her to Spain. Although she is relatively new to the food tourism industry. She is not short of excitement to kick off her career as an active member in the WFTA community. "My interest in food tourism started at a very young age, but it really came to light when I spent time living in Mexico and afterwards, in southern Spain," shared Jane. Her time abroad provided her with the insight of the importance and value that food and beverage can have on a traveler's overall understanding of a culture and experience there.
Jane's favorite food/beverage destinations are Spain, Thailand and the Pacific Northwest of the United States/southwestern Canada. She has enjoyed meals in every region in Spain (and it's understandably impossible for her to choose a favorite among them). "Each region is rich in exquisite local products, tasteful dishes, and unique food cultures." Jane has fond memories of Chang Mai, Thailand, its popular dish “Khao Soi” and the unforgettable night market packed with mouth watering street food. Finally, Jane cannot ignore her native Pacific Northwest region of the United States. She reminisces, "Here you find products such as wild salmon, Dungeness crab, and other fresh seafood. Also available are game meats, wild mushrooms and an assortment of delicate and delicious berries. The Pacific Northwest region is full of foodie destinations that will entice you, from enjoying fresh oysters, to sushi, or a nice cold craft beer." Jane also shared an honorable mention: Querétaro, Mexico. "You just have to go!" she says. We can't wait to taste of ourselves.
Jane is strong believer of food and travel as a mechanism for sustainable tourism and economic growth. Whether it is promoting local foodways, products or simply educating fellow travelers. Food, travel and sustainability go hand in hand. "That's why I chose to become part of the World Food Travel Association family," she recounts.
"This is only the beginning; you will be seeing more of me in the future!" Welcome, Jane!
World Food Travel Association Ambassador in Nepal Suraj Pradhan see more
We are pleased to introduce Suraj Pradhan, the World Food Travel Association (WFTA)'s newest certified ambassador. Suraj represents the interests of the WFTA in Nepal, the land of Mount Everest.
Suraj's interest in the hospitality sector began with his apprenticeship as a chef in 2010 when her arrived in Sydney, Australia. Suraj's passion was encouraged when he was awarded with Tourism Minister’s Student Achiever Award 2010 in Australia. This award gave him the impetus to dream of his nation’s cuisine and food heritage. Following his passion about "root cuisine", Nepalese food, he initiate ‘Let’s talk about Nepalese Food’ 2013 campaign in Sydney and Nepal. He then begin to write about Nepalese food in local newspapers and magazines of Nepal and Sydney and got chance to be monthly Nepalese food speaker in SBS Radio and contribute Nepalese recipes to SBS Food (Australia’s no.1 food network). His recipes have been featured in many cookbooks, recently by the famed US food writer Raghavan Iyer.
Then Suraj had the idea to use his experience and skills to promote further Nepalese food, which eventually led to the notion to develop and promote food tourism to Nepal. The country's food heritage and food stories are unheard, undiscovered and untold, a perfect recipe for food tourism.
At the end of 2016, he was part of the One Star House Party team that "conquered" Mount Everest Base Camp with a Pop Up Restaurant led by British Chef James Sharman (ex-Noma) and Tom Aikens. Then in 2017, he finally fulfilled his dream to organize first Nepalese Food Festival in Sydney as Tasting Nepal 2017 and also the first Nepalese Pop Up Dinner in Brisbane. As the director of his company Two Tables, he has planned and organized several gastronomical events and starting food tourism and hospitality consulting company partnering with various stakeholders in Nepal and Australia respectively.
We sat down with Suraj to get to know him better.
WFTA: Tell us what your company does.
Suraj: We’ve got a bunch of great stories about how our work brings about positive outcomes around communities and what inspire us to kick off this business design. We are a creative and cultural enterprise focused on nurturing the development of individuals, businesses and communities. We achieve outcomes through capacity building, intensive workshops, creating employment opportunities, training, events, marketing, innovation and creativity.
WFTA: When and how did your interest in food/beverage tourism begin?
Suraj: I got involved with hospitality sector as apprentice chef in 2010 as I arrived Sydney in 2009 from the land of Mount Everest; Nepal and become passionate about this industry when I received the Tourism Minister’s Student Achiever Award 2010 in Australia. Then, following my passion for food, I thought of my root cuisine and ways to promote it. Meanwhile, I studied food media in Sydney, then gradually taking various jobs in the hospitality industry. Eventually I began to understand the importance of food in tourism, and became determined to establish Nepal as a food hub from means of the food tourism.
WFTA: What are your top 3 favorite food/beverage destinations and why do you like them?
This would be most favourite question to me, or all foodies out there. Rather than a particular three places, in generic my favourite three food destinations are:
1. Europe- In Europe, my favourite are Italian, Spanish and Greek cuisine as these cuisines are influencing the way people around the world think about food. Who doesn’t impressed by Italian way of eating their food with love.
2. Asia: In Asia, I really want to go Japan to observe how precisely the Japanese prepare their food. Bad eating is really impossible there and being chef, I am watching Japanese cooking influences on the top chefs today.
3. Southeast Asia: Really nowadays, cuisines from Southeast Asia, Malaysian, Thai, Vietnamese, Filipino and Singaporean are attracting me as they are so delicious and have great stories to tell.
And another favourite destination is my own Nepal’s many parts. I really want to go every corner of the Nepal and search of food stories and find the mysteries.
WFTA: Why did you join the World Food Travel Association?
As this organisation is the leading authority of food and travel, it was a great place to come and learn how to become food & travel expert and also how to create economic opportunities for destinations. I'm most excited about the opportunities to collaborate on projects together.
Thank you Suraj. It's a pleasure to offer you a seat at our table.
Food travel news from Gorontalo Indonesia see more
This just in from Amanda Niode, our Ambassador in Indonesia:
The Omar Niode Foundation, chaired by Amanda Niode, Ambassador in Indonesia to the World Food Travel Association, collaborated with Negeri Rempah Foundation to organize a food travel program themed the spice route.
This program chose Gorontalo, a province on the Island of Sulawesi, that holds rich stories and flavors. It is situated on the Wallacea, a transition zone between the Asian and Australian continents.
For three days (9-11 March 2018) the food lovers visited important spice culture points in Gorontalo. They tasted various dishes and traditional Gorontalo snacks and drinks, and learned the stories behind each while enjoying the natural beauty of the area.
The fifteen travelers came from different backgrounds including food writers, national media representatives, event organizers, logistics practitioners, food lovers, food entrepreneurs, and an official from the Presidential palace.
They visited Dulamayo scenic track in the cool hilly areas where community gardens are abundant, growing cloves, cinnamons, nutmegs, vanilla, and betelnut, candlenut, coffee, cacao and coconut. Another interesting place in Dulamayo is Balombo; a hut where local farmers process Pahangga (traditional palm sugar).
Travelers also enjoyed a variety of traditional foods and snacks such as Ilabulo, spiced sago with egg and gizzards, known as a food served when two kingdoms reached peace agreement after a war. Another favorite is milu putungo, spicy roasted corns with grated coconut and slices of banana blossom, grilled on candlenut shells.
The spiciest dish in Gorontalo is tabu moitomo, a rich black soup using beef or poultry with 30 ingredients, including all kinds of herbs and spices imaginable. This cuisine is commonly served in weddings, family gatherings and special events. Preparing tabu moitomo, a comfort food for many, is a family affair as it takes hours and requires many people to grind the herbs and spices and to wait for the meat to become tender.
Mini Gorontalo Food Festival was held in a colonial house with guests discussing the various foods of Gorontalo while enjoying harp music 9 main courses, 22 types of snacks and Pinogu Coffee, a blend of Robusta and Liberica coffee, harvested in a remote area where there is no road access that takes 10 hours to reach by foot.
Gorontalo is not as famous as nearby Maluku Islands that have been producing spices since the bygone era, but Gorontalo’s strategic location between the South China Sea and Tomini Bay, has made it a shipping lane in the past, forming a unique and distinctive culture, including its culinary products.
Being a transit area in the old days, Gorontalo has an old town area with colonial buildings and a variety of community clusters such as Chinese Village, Arab Village, Bugis Village, and Tent Village (used to be Portuguese residential area). Sunset at Otanaha Fortress is also part of the tour, as the Portuguese built Otanaha, overlooking Lake Limboto, in 1522 inititated. According to experts, forts are always available in spice producing areas.
Island Hopping in between spicy meals is also in the program, as Gorontalo with its spectacular dive spots has 150 small exotic islands with a stretch of white sand and clear blue water.
World Food Travel Association Appoints Holly Galbraith as First Ambassador in Australia see more
FIRST AUSTRALIAN AMBASSADOR APPOINTED FOR WORLD FOOD TRAVEL ASSOCIATION
SYDNEY, Australia — Sydney-based food and tourism marketer Holly Galbraith has been approved as Australia’s first Certified Ambassador to the World Food Travel Association.
The World Food Travel Association is the world’s leading authority on food and beverage tourism. This not-for-profit association creates economic opportunities where food and beverage meet travel and hospitality. pioneers major research into food and beverage tourism including the 2016 Food Travel Monitor, the world's largest food and beverage tourism research project ever conducted.
The ambassadorship is an is an invitation-only appointment for individuals who demonstrate a passion and commitment to food tourism and who commit to the further development of food tourism in their region.
Founder and Executive Director of World Food Travel Association says, “We’re delighted to expand our Ambassador network by adding a very capable individual like Holly. We have always respected self-direction at the local level, and encourage Australia to forge its own food tourism path, which we are happy to help shepherd as needed. We look forward to doing great things together.”
Australia has come to the forefront of food tourism since the launch of Restaurant Australia by Tourism Australia in 2013. Food and wine now account for 20% of expenditures, nearly one in five dollars, spent by international tourists in Australia.
“My passion for food and tourism started early, growing up on an orchard and helping to evolve the family business into an agri-tourism enterprise,” says Galbraith.
“This dedication further grew from my time living and working in the Byron region that is, in my view, one of Australia’s top food destinations.”
This year will see a significant project launched by Holly Galbraith for the Australian food tourism industry with the announcement of Australia’s first culinary tourism conference, Destination Food, scheduled for May 2018.
About Holly Galbraith
Holly Galbraith is a marketing consultant specialising in social media & digital marketing working with a range of clients in tourism, agri-tourism, food and events. Holly is committed to continual learning, sharing ideas and networking to further develop the tourism industry.
About Destination Food
Destination Food brings together key people working in food tourism to share ideas, stories, network and learn. It is aimed at destinations as well as food tourism operators, hotels, airlines, marketers and food PR's, media and content creators. The event will be held at Museum of Sydney, Monday 21 May 2018.
The World Food Travel Association Names its 2017 Ambassador of the Year. see more
The World Food Travel Association is pleased to announce the 2017 winner of its Ambassador of the Year award, Maria Athanasopoulou from Greece. Maria serves as both a Certified Ambassador of the Association, as well as on the Association's Board of Advisors. During the course of the past year, Maria arranged two Association events in Greece, negotiated distribution of the Association's Certification program through a culinary school in Greece, and flew to London to meet with Association representatives during World Travel Market. She is currently planning an Association-recognized regional conference for this coming September, is in the process of establishing an Association-endorsed food-tourism consulting practice in Greece, and will be speaking at the Association's Online Food Travel Summit this coming April 24-25. She is an excellent role model of a Certified Ambassador of the Association. You can learn more about Maria in her profile in our Member Directory. The Ambassador of the Year award is a new recognition introduced by the Association in recognition of Certified Ambassadors who have excelled in the past year in their role as a Certified Ambassador.