The Food Academy Bangkok (F.A.B), set up by a Swede only a few years ago, has come to an abrupt end. F.A.B suddenly closed down by the end of 2014 and in the process a dream project of the initiator, Susanna Asklöf, was ruined.
The website said: ‘Closed due to external circumstances!’ On F.A.B’s previous Facebook page Susanna elaborated: “Dear friends and sponsors in Bangkok/Scandinavia!! After almost 3 years building up F.A.B and putting in 110 % effort, I regret to inform you that I can no longer keep up with the demands of the job and will be closing FAB. Since some people made my hard work even harder it is impossible to continue.”
The circumstances surrounding the closure are murky and the Scandinavian community is tight-lipped on the subject. F.A.B had enjoyed much support from Swedes and other Scandinavians in Bangkok, not only for its Scandinavian food and bread but also for its cause – helping underprivileged people in Bangkok’s slum area in Klong Toey to a career within restaurants – food & beverage – through learning the skills of cooking and baking, including also basic accounting and English skills. Susanna Asklöf had wanted to make a difference; ‘making merit’, as Buddhists would definitely define her efforts.
Many feasts and Scandinavian events, such as crayfish and midsummer parties, were held at F.A.B and the catering became successful in the community.
F.A.B was started and operated using her own funds, and with the help of private donors – a Swiss foundation among them – along with income from selling food and holding private events.
It all went well – until something went terribly wrong, the details of which Susanna Asklöf declines to reveal.
“F.A.B enjoyed a fantastic response but what good did that do when Thais did not believe in my sincere intentions, believing I was making a profit and wanting their share of that. I had to close down F.A.B since it was incomprehensible for the authorities to believe that I ran the project as a non-profit organization, and instead persistently believed I was doing something else.”
“I spent all my private savings to build up F.A.B and could never take out a salary. My private economy is in ruins.”
She did not mince here words in describing what she had been going through leading up to the closure.
“It’s been hell for me, and a catastrophe. They’ve ruined my life and my future.”
Who are they? Susanna’s concern for herself and the safety of all the organizations and individuals that supported are more important for her than elaborating any further.
Those causing trouble for her were only after money, she said to ScandAsia.
“My friends have supported me immensely during this time and I have fought extremely hard. Those who supported and were there with us already know – and we are protecting each other now. There is not much to add. No more people should get in trouble because of this.”
“Though difficult, I have greatly enjoyed the experience of helping young people getting started in the food business and I can’t thank you enough for also helping to provide new opportunities for those with limited options in life. I greatly appreciate all your help and support with this project,” she announced too on Facebook.
From her adopted home country Sweden she is deeply disappointed about Thailand, the country in which she was born.
“I feel safe now but I will never forget this hell I’ve been through, and I’m pretty disappointed to have seen that Thais do not understand that one might want to do something without having the ambition to make a lot of money.”