|Mammoth success: Nooror is the founding partner and director of Blue Elephant International.
by Manta Klangboonkrong
Chef Nooror Somany Steppe is the inspiration and central person behind the success of Blue Elephant restaurants, constantly working as an ambassador advocating Thai cuisine and Thai culture to all whom she encounters around the world.
Nooror was born in Thailand's Chachoengsao province where her family owned a small Thai restaurant. Growing up in these surroundings instilled in Nooror both the love and the skills for cooking authentic Thai cuisine. During this time and her later years living overseas she also acquired a strong proficiency in creating new Thai dishes with the authentic taste of traditional Thai cuisine. This passion and skill for true authentic Thai cuisine are the important inspirations that brought forth the birth of the purveyor of such food on the world stage, Blue Elephant restaurants.
An opportunity arose when Nooror's brother, who was studying Hotel Management in Brussels, Belgium, persuaded her to join him and further her education. Her brother introduced her to Karl Steppe, in whose antique shop in Brussels, Belgium, he was working. Two years later Nooror married Karl and they now have three grown up children. Together with her husband, along with some Thai partners, the master chef opened the first Blue Elephant restaurant in Brussels in 1980. Following its success in Belgium, the Blue Elephant expanded to London, Paris and Copenhagen, establishing itself as Europe's most renowned Thai restaurant.
It has been 33 successful and exciting years since the first Blue Elephant was opened. At present, there are 11 branches of Blue Elephant located in major cities throughout Europe, the Middle East and Asia: Brussels, London, Copenhagen, Paris, Lyon, Dubai, Beirut, Kuwait, Malta, Jakarta, Bangkok and Phuket. Each of these restaurants is decorated in a true Thai style and serves the best in Thai cuisine, allowing its foreign customers to fully experience a real taste of Thailand. All these restaurants are supplied with fresh ingredients from Thailand through the Blue Elephant Trade Office in Bangkok. Curry pastes, spices, sauces and dressings as well as sweets and snacks under the Blue Elephant brand are also available, as is a range of ceramic tea pots, all designed to look like blue elephants.
Blue Elephant Bangkok has been fully ensconced in the century-old Thai-Chine Building on South Sathorn Road. Diners will find the Bangkok restaurant itself charming and comfortable, carefully decorated to recall a Siam of the past. Antiques and faux-antiques are scattered throughout the subdued but welcoming ambience. Blue Elephant in Bangkok and Phuket are different from all the others in one other way. On these premises, Nooror has opened up the Blue Elephant Cooking School, which offers daily classes, or classes tailor-made to requests from students.
During April and May 2013, Nooror was invited by Royal Thai Consulate General and Le Cordon Bleu Los Angeles, to conduct Thai cuisine classes for alumni and students as well as the faculty in the subjects related to consumer education and industry professional development. As a result of her co-operation, she received a letter of appreciation from the Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts in recognition of her skills and knowledge in teaching the Thai cuisine. Later in July, she was invited by the Thai Embassy in Brazil and in collaboration with Tivoli Hotel to participate in the Thai Food Festival, which turned out to be a big success.
In April 2014, both the chef and her daughter were invited to Los Angeles Cordon Bleu Culinary College to conduct classes there in order to promote Thai cuisine in the US. Early this September, she was invited by Thai Embassy in South Africa and the Chef Association to conduct a Thai Cuisine Teaching Course to the leading Chefs in Sao Palo. — The Nation
Blue Elephant Bangkok on South Sathorn Road
Time: lunch (11.30am-2.30pm), dinner (6.30-10.30pm).
Tell: +662 673 9353 or visit www.BlueElephant.com.