Stephanie and Ben Anglade from France took over fine dining Naiharn restaurant, L’Orfeo, in 2009 and since then have updated and improved the popular place, as well as increasing the clientèle.
A lifestyle change brought the husband and wife team to Phuket, but they had absolutely no experience in running a restaurant.
But that didn’t matter, with them both growing up in food-loving France, and armed with a lot of enthusiasm for their new project.
Stephanie has a Masters in Business Administration (MBA) and while in France worked for an HR consulting firm, while Ben spent 10 years working for a web-marketing agency in Paris.
They decided to move to Phuket for a career change and Ben began an internet search for possible jobs.
They spotted the ad looking for new owners of the restaurant, situated on Soi Saiyuan in Naiharn.
On arrival, both were filled with apprehension but also excitement for the new challenge ahead. The first few months were tough, with the couple learning the ropes. They redecorated the interior with a French touch, and spiced up the menu.
Ben, who runs the kitchen, took a cooking class in France where he found working in a kitchen was “not too difficult” and realised it came naturally.
Ben works alongside Chef Oh, and the sous chef Apple, both Thai nationals. They teach him how to do things like filleting fish, and he trains them how to improve their technique and make sure the Western meals are top-notch.
The restaurant is a cosy, romantic place with lovely lighting and a colour scheme in reds, oranges, yellows and tasteful browns, giving a real Oriental/French feel. The tables are set perfectly with unique table settings and gleaming silverware.
The place attracts lots of couples for “romantic evenings”, as well as groups of friends, plus families with young children as there is a children’s play area.
The menu includes salads, pasta, seafood and a range of meat dishes using high-quality imported meat from Australia and New Zealand.
Popular items on the European menu include Beef Rossini (seared foie gras on top of Australian Angus beef tenderloin, with mushrooms, potatoes and madeira sauce) B750, the Australian Angus beef tartar (B610), and the foie gras dish for B630.
Desserts are around B200 and include crème brulée, sorbet, and a yummy lemon tart.
L’Orfeo was named in the Thailand Tatler list of best restaurants in 2011, and earlier in 2007 with previous owners, with its European wine list and food menu.
Stephanie says, “If you had told me five years ago we would be running a restaurant in Phuket I would have said “Yeah right”. But we just followed the opportunities. It was a challenge and we felt like taking it.”
L’Orfeo, 95/13 Moo 7 Saiyuan Rd, Rawai-Naiharn, Phuket, 076288935, orfeo@firstname.lastname@example.org, and orfeo-phuket.com.