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Chef Dee Buizer of Senae Thai Bistro Recognized by Thai Government

Tucson Chef receives prestigious “Thai Select” award for Thai cuisine
Chef Dee Buizer is one of 32 Thai Select chefs worldwide chosen by the Government of Thailand

By Jamie Verwys

Tucson, Arizona - Tucson chef Amonwadee “Dee” Buizer, owner and chef of Senae Thai Bistro, is one of 32 chefs around the world invited by the Thai government to participate in the THAI SELECT Project and THAIFEX 2018 International Trade Exhibition in Bangkok the end of this month. Chef Dee was recognized for her “authentic and creative Thai dishes” last year by Department of International Trade Promotion, Thailand Ministry of Commerce with their Thai Select certificate, a program established by the Royal Thai Government to certify and promote authentic Thai food worldwide.

Less than 10 percent of the over five thousand Thai restaurants in the U.S. have been awarded the official Thai Select certificate, and only seven of these were selected to participate this program and THAIFEX 2018. Senae Thai Bistro is the only one in Arizona.

“Receiving this prestigious award isn't easy; the requirement is set high and the guidelines are very strict,” said Mrs. Kwanapa Phivnil, Director of the Thai Trade Center Los Angeles under Thailand Ministry of Commerce “Chef Dee and Senae represent everything we want to promote through our global program.”

In 2015 Tucson was named “City of Gastronomy” by the United Nations, the first in the U.S. It is fitting that as we celebrate Asian American Month, Tucson’s Senae Thai Bistro’s award by the Thai Government highlights the rich connection between culture and food, as well as the spirit of Tucson’s long history in culinary innovation.

“I’m so proud to bring this honor to Tucson,” said chef Dee. “Being recognized this way by the Government of Thailand is both humbling and affirming as I’ve dedicated my career to serving beautifully presented, authentic Thai cuisine.”

Chef Dee is originally from Bangkok and has been a restauranteur in the U.S. for over 30 years, opening her first restaurant, Sweet Basil, in Berkeley, California in 1987. She opened Senae Thai Bistro in Downtown Tucson with husband Jim Buizer, a professor at the University of Arizona, in 2016. The restaurant is a local favorite, winning the Arizona Daily Star’s 2017 Reader’s Choice Award for Best Thai Restaurant. They are most known for their house specialty Pbed Takai, seared breast of duck, and Pla Rad Kang, grilled salmon. She uses locally sourced ingredients whenever possible and has formed a partnership with the University of Arizona’s Community and School Garden Program to grow some of the greens used in her dishes.

“I’ve worked for many restaurants, and this one is by far the best place to work,” said Mark Castillo, lead cook. “Chef Dee is tough and has high expectations of us, but she is fair and generous to her employees. When she learned of the award she told us that we have earned it together, that it belongs to all of us.”

As a Thai Select recipient, chef Dee will travel to Bangkok to join with other 32 Thai Chefs around the world for several food activities including attending the THAIFEX- World of Food Asia Expo from May 29 - June 2. THAIFEX attracts over 50,000 food and beverage trade guests from 130 countries annually.

“I’m very excited to participate in THAIFEX where I’ll also submit a recipe for The International Rice Recipe Contest 2018 (Rice Plus Award 2018) to compete for a Royal Trophy by Her Royal Highness Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn” said chef Dee. “I look forward to bringing new ideas back to Tucson.”


Senae Thai Bistro is located at 63 E. Congress St. #121, Tucson, AZ. To view the menu, make a reservation, or to learn more, visit or call (520) 373-5335. Follow us on Facebook.