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Thai Traditions

August 21, 2011
By KIM LOCCISANO - Staff Writer (kloccisano@timesleaderonline.com) , Times Leader

FINAL DETAILS of the second annual "A Touch of Thai," a unique cultural experience planned for Sunday, Aug. 28, from noon to 4 p.m. at the Stifel Center, are being put in place by event founders and hosts Pom and Martin Tse, owners of the popular Golden Chopsticks and Silver Chopsticks restaurants in Wheeling.

Pom Sorat Tse is a native of Bangkok, Thailand. Martin Tse is a native of Hong Kong, China.

Both are graduates of the former West Liberty State College and have made the Upper Ohio Valley their home, having founded successful restaurants specializing largely in Chinese cuisine offering both traditional and modern fare.

Article Photos

T-L Photos/KIM LOCCISANO
The Kingdom of Thailand’s artisans have never faltered in their appreciation for beautiful and emotionally significant items such as jewelry, woven silk fabrics, and the art of crafting traditional doll-sized Thai dancers. A collection of modern and
traditional jewelry of Thailand will be available for sale at the “Touch of Thai” event on Aug. 28 from noon to 4 p.m. at the Stifel Center.


The couple has always maintained a practice of finding unique ways to share their personal and professional blessings with those who live and work in the surrounding communities, and they see founding this Thai-focused event as a means of doing just that type of thing.

After the overwhelmingly successful inaugural "A Touch of Thai" event held a year ago, plans have been made to make this year's event equally as inviting-if not more so than was the previous experience.

The event is being planned around advance ticket sales, rather than having an unlimited number available for sale at the door, as was done for the previous event. An addition to the accommodations for guests this year will be the use of a large outdoor tent, to provide comfort for those wanting refuge from the sun.

This year, the event will offer an expanded opportunity for guests to purchase goods with true cultural connections to the traditions of Thailand, both ancient and modern.

An exquisitely diverse array of traditional Thai gold and silver jewelry will be available for sale during the event.

Traditional Thai clothing, recognized for its comfort and elegance will be available for purchase as well, as will a variety of accessories guaranteed to offer something appealing to virtually anyone venturing out to attend the inviting event.

Thailand traditionally has produced a wide array of cotton and silk textiles, with residents of various parts of the country having developed their own distinctive patterns for clothing, domestic, and ceremonial purposes, thus transforming textiles into markers of identity, said one expert.

A variety of styles with traditional and modern influences have been hand selected for sale at the event.

A new addition this year will be Sam Thong, portrait artist and native of Thailand, who will be on-hand to do his popular caricatures. Work of this Washington, Pa., resident is well known to festival goers frequenting events in Pittsburgh and in the Ohio Valley.

The menu for this family style event has been planned so there is something of unique interest for guests of all ages, but each with a Thai influence.

The tradition of appreciating a taste of a little something sweet at the end of a meal is being continued as guests will be tempted by a vast array of specially prepared desserts.

Thai food combines the oriental bite of Szechuan Chinese, the tropical flavor of Malaysian, the creamy coconut sauces of southern Indian and the aromatic spices of Arabian food, according to one food reviewer.

It is structured on the use of fresh and natural ingredients, with attention to the fine details of presenting foods so as to also stimulate the visual senses so a person's enjoyment of the food is uniquely balanced and involves several of the five senses.

Thai cuisine is not only about flavor.

"Eight to ten dishes will be served buffet-style from noon to 1:30 p.m. Some of the selections include shrimp and papaya salad, green curry chicken, panang chicken, spicy bamboo with ground beef and pad thai, the best known and most popular of all Thai noodle dishes," shared the Thai native.

Seating will be available both inside and outside the Stifel Center.

Preparing the day's fare will be Chefs Usanakorn (Jean) Chitvisuthipun and Kay Lohsiri of Columbus, Ohio.

Returning in an expanded role this year will be martial arts demonstrations which will feature demonstrations of elements of the popular sport Thai kick-boxing, and also examples of the classic Muay Thai, an ancient form of martial arts rooted in Thailand's culture from a time when hand-to-hand combat was the norm.

Guests will enjoy an expanded and historically enriched program brought to this cultural event through the participation of a group of students from the Columbus based Ohio Muay Thai Academy, founded and led by a man with the very elite standing of Grand Master.

Muay Thai Grand Master Therdsak Dhiraprasiddhi, more often known as "Master Lek" to the general public, is internationally recognized as a proven and highly accomplished practitioner and as a teacher and mentor.

He is the founder of the Ohio Muay Thai Academy in Columbus.

The art of Muay Thai and other specialized disciplines within its structure have been part of his life since his earliest childhood memories, said the Thai native.

As is in keeping with Thai tradition he is not a person inclined to offer information about his personal successes; it is just not his way of doing things. He believes solidly in the value of genuine personal humility, respectfulness, and in living one's life in a calm, quiet and balanced manner.

These are life lessons and beliefs which he personally holds in the highest regard.

They are also practices he believes in sharing with his students as essential elements of a foundation that should always be at the core of their practice and further development of Muay Thai skills.

Master Lek's personal reputation as a Muay Thai kick-boxer in Thailand remains remarkable more than 30 years after venturing to the U.S. and eventually founding his school.

Consenting to a special request, Master Lek will share a look into a particular aspect of Muay Thai tradition seldom seen in such public venues: Grabee Grabong, a weapon-based martial art from Thailand.

Demonstrations of Muay Thai kickboxing, a hand-to-hand combat style used by many Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) fighters, and Grabee Grabong will take place at 1:30 & 2:30 p.m.

Other attractions include traditional Thai dances performed by elegantly dressed dancers. Dances will take place outside weather permitting.

"Dancers from the Wat Ohio Dhammaram (Thai Buddhist Temple) in Columbus will perform traditional Thai dances," offered Tse, noting the tradition of dance to the Thai is a gift of beauty which can be shared easily between cultures.

Tickets for the event are just $15 per person and must be purchased in advance of the event.

To purchase tickets visit Golden Chopsticks Restaurant at 329 N. York Street in Wheeling, call the restaurant at 304-232-2888, call Stifel's customer service desk at 304-242-7700 or visit the web site at oionline.com.

Pom Sorat Tse, explained that Thailand is often called the "land of smiles," not only because visitors love its natural beauty and historical riches, but also because of the country's friendly people and fascinating culture. She promises an "afternoon of smiles" at the Stifel Fine Arts Center as people get a glimpse of the sights, sounds and tastes of Thailand.

 
 

 

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