The panel discussion will feature a who's who of Bangkok foodies. But will the BMA take note?
Ever since news surfaced in mid-April about a potential street food ban and regulation of Yaowarat and Khaosan roads by the BMA, the decision has been a hot topic around the city. Now, the Foreign Correspondents' Club of Thailand is getting involved by holding a proper discussion panel on the topic, dubbed "Bangkok's Street Food Future"
Taking place this Wednesday (May 17), the panel discussion aims to discuss allegedly misreported comments from the BMA that started a series of online fake-news accusations and heaps of coverage in Western media regarding Thailand's street food future. It will also touch on what defines "street food" in the BMA's eyes, as well as how food safety and hygiene are legitimate concerns for most people.
The panel is a group of key members from Bangkok's foodie scene, including: Piyaluck Nakoyodhin, publisher of Street Food: 39 Great Places Under 100 Baht; Philip Cornwell-Smith, author of Very Thai: Every Day Popular Culture; David Thompson, chef/owner of Nahm fine-dining restaurant and author of Thai Street Food; and Chawadee Nualkhair, author of Bangkok Glutton.
In a recent interview with us, Chawadee expressed her doubts about the BMA's ability to pull off the plan successfully, saying "It looks like a Donald Trump-ian promise to 'come up with a better healthcare plan' or 'bring coal back again'. Will it simply be telling police to harass vendors, and will they actually follow through?"
She also remains doubtful about how regulating Yaowarat and Khaosan can benefit tourists, as the BMA claims. "I hope they are slowly realizing that tourists want to see street food, not nice Thai restaurants with dancers and fruit carvers or whatever. Thai restaurants are ubiquitous enough back home—people want something different".
With that in mind, it will be interesting to hear what the panel has to say about the many people who do support the BMA's decision. For example, leading chef Dylan Jones, of Bo.lan, has suggested that a ban could be a step in the right direction, citing a marked drop in the quality of street food. "The actual price that they [vendors] are selling for has not gone up, but the prices of the ingredients have—this means vendors are having to cut corners to make their food, resulting in the quality rapidly declining."
This is sure to be a thought-provoking debate that we hope will clear up confusion about the current situation, shed light on various opinions surrounding the topic and hopefully gain the interest of the BMA itself.
The Foreign Correspondents' Club of Thailand is Southeast Asia's largest and oldest press club that aims to promote and protect the rights of the press in Thailand and across Asia. They regularly hold debates and panel discussions surrounding current events in Thai media and culture.
"Bangkok's Street Food Future" takes place this May 17 at 9pm. Entrance is B450 for non-members and free for members. FCCT, Maneeya Center, 518/5 Phloenchit Rd., 02-652-0581