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.