In Thailand, there are more than 1,000 self-proclaimed Italian restaurants, 200 of which call Bangkok home. But we can’t be fooled by a small flag on a label, says the Italian Ambassador to Thailand.
Food is so deeply rooted and important in Italian culture that the Italian Ministry of Economic Development, with the help of 78 Italian Chambers of Commerces across 55 countries, is on a worldwide mission to seek out and award only the most authentic restaurants.
How do you seek out authenticity? It begins with an “X-Ray of the kitchen, from the warehouse to the fridge,” said the Italian Ambassador to Bangkok Lorenzo Galanti. From there, restaurants are tested to pass 10 criteria to obtain the ‘Golden Q Trademark’. Testing covers the restaurant’s identity, reception, mise en place (everything in its place), a kitchen examination, menu check including spelling, gourmet offerings, wine list, extra virgin olive oil, experience and competence and product designation of origin (PDO) and product geographical indication (PGI) certification–everything except the actual meal.
On referencing one restaurant which didn’t pass because of its disorganised, chaotic kitchen, the Ambassador commented on the criteria, “It’s punctual, a bit silly”. However, the True Italian Taste project exists to promote and support the use of genuine Italian products that are made and produced in Italy.
While all the groundwork is done in-country, restaurants are only approved in Rome, home of the Ministry of Economic Development’s larger project,
Ospitalita Italiana. Once the results come back they’re published in a yearly publication: A Guidebook to Italian Cuisine in Thailand. The 2018 edition launched last week at Hotel Indigo by the Thai-Italian Chamber of Commerce (TICC).
In the past there have been as many as 57 restaurants, however, the latest edition includes just 44. Of those, 29 were renewed from the year before and 15 are newcomers, which shows the projects meticulous commitment to authenticity. There are a few familiar names in the 2018 edition including restaurants we’ve reviewed like Appia and others we’ve broken bread with such as Gianni Ristorante.
A Guidebook to Italian Cuisine in Thailand is a 12-month project which was first published in 2017. While the book itself is published in English, TICC announced that they will partner will local chefs, celebrities and influencers to further promote Italian cuisine with possible trips to Italy later this year.
For now it can be found it at Kinokuniya, Asiabooks and Tops Supermarket, but will soon be available at Open House, Central Embassy.