Thai Select

J enna Gladfelter

  Growing up in Central Pennsylvania, my exposure to cuisine from different cultures was limited (unless you consider Tex-Mex cultured). If we were feeling especially adventurous, we'd head over to one of the few Chinese restaurants in our area for some sweet and sour chicken.  You can imagine how leery I was in high school when a close friend suggested a Thai restaurant. 
And my journey as a foodie began. Kidding. It wasn't all that dramatic, but over the years, I've grown to love learning about and trying authentic cuisines from other countries and cultures. The Thai Select event was right up this alley.
In the spirit of full disclosure, I wasn't entirely sure what I was in for when I RSVP'd, but I did know that it had something to do with Thai food (which was all the convincing I needed). The event was held at a little Thai restaurant in the heart of the West Village called Pinto Garden. We started out by tasting several (delicious) dishes, and the program started. Turns out, Thai Select was launched by the Royal Thai Government to certify and promote authentic Thai cuisine around the world. Evidently, due to the growing popularity of Thai cuisine over the years, there are many restaurants that choose to label themselves as Thai establishments but don't actually serve authentic Thai food! That's a problem. 
This event explained how important food is in Thai culture, and while it’s nice to see the cuisine growing in popularity, it's only natural to strive to ensure it doesn't stray from its roots. Thai Select exists to identify the restaurants that are the real deal. There is a list of criteria a restaurant needs to meet in order to be considered for this status (you can read them here ), but first and foremost, at least 60% of the items on the menu need to be Thai food. Essentially, if you want to know if you're getting legit Thai food, look for ‘Thai Select’!
When Pinto Garden was awarded their Thai Select status, there were two really cool things we learned about them. First, Chef Yo told us that each of the four regions of Thailand are represented on his menu. For instance, while one dish may be more common to the Northern region, another may be more popular in Central Thailand. Secondly, he explained that supporting local businesses is a high priority for Pinto Garden. They are intentional about cultivating and maintaining strong business relationships with tristate farms to serve fresh, high quality dishes. 
This event turned out to better than expected. Not only did we get to try delicious foods and learn about Thailand culture and cuisine, we were able to be part of a momentous occasion, as this restaurant was recognized for their hard work to bring the taste of Thailand overseas. And any restaurant with a motto of " Eat well... be well " is one I can support.

Jenna was born and raised in farm-country Pennsylvania. After attending college in Virginia and grad school in Maryland, she worked her way back up the East Coast to New York City. Her first job out of school was working with adults with developmental disabilities which she found to be incredibly rewarding.. Now she finds herself advocating for the rights of senior citizens in NYC.

Inspired by books penned by strong, comedic women such as Tina Fey, Carrie Fisher, and Jenny Lawson, she hopes to one day write a book herself. Among her family and friends, she's known for her Julie Andrews obsession, leaving umbrellas everywhere, and knowing useless pieces of trivia. In her spare time, she loves to try new restaurants, binge-watch Netflix, wander through botanical gardens, and eat insane amounts of popcorn.