Mr. Karl Steppe

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Chairman of Blue Elephant Cooking School and Restaurant

The Leader’s Clubs’ annual forum took place in Paris at Palais des Congres on 17 March 2003. Karl Steppe, co-founder of the Blue Elephant restaurants, was awarded the title of:

Leader of the Year 2003


This distinctive award, which is awarded every year to just one person by a committee of professionals, recognizes the effort and worldwide success and development of a restaurant group or brand.


Karl Steppe is President of the Blue Elephant International Restaurant Group Plc and the board includes his wife and Thai partners. The Group has two distinctive styles of restaurants: Blue Elephant restaurants serving Royal Thai Cuisine (13 restaurants worldwide) and La Porte Des Indes which serve Indian Cuisine “with a difference” (2 restaurants respectively located in Belgium, in the UK and in Dubai).

The Leader’s Club was established in 1993 and has 150 members representing the main commercial restaurant and contract catering groups as well as food processing companies and suppliers of equipment and services. As this year is the Club’s tenth anniversary it wanted to highlight and award the quality and originality of the Blue Elephant Group whose concept has developed around the world and continues to do so very successfully to this very day. The Group celebrated its 20th anniversary in 2001 and is about to open its 12th and 13th restaurants respectively in Kuwait and Bahrain by the end of 2003.

It was in front of an audience of 600 professionals from the commercial restauration industry that Karl Steppe received this distinctive award from Thierry Begue, President of the Leader’s Club.


Karl Steppe Biography
President of the Blue Elephant International Group Plc

  • Born in Belgium in 1944
  • Married, 3 children
  • Fluent in French, English, German and Dutch
  • His career did not start in the restaurant industry. He began his career in communications before becoming an antiquarian regularly travelling from Belgium to Thailand. Convinced that there were no restaurants in Europe that merited being called Thai, he founded the first link in a collection of exotic and high standard restaurants in Brussels in 1980 under the name Blue Elephant. More soon followed: London (1986); Copenhagen (1990); Paris (1991); Dubai and New Delhi (1997); Beirut (1998); Lyon (1999); Malta (2000); Bangkok (2002); Kuwait and Bahrain (2003); Moscow and Jakarta (2007); Samui (2008) and Phuket (2010).
  • In addition to Blue Elephant, he developed a second brand name dedicated to Indian cuisine, La Porte des Indes. The first branch was opened in Brussels and a critically acclaimed restaurant followed in London and Dubai.
  • He is renowned for the originality of the process of creation and management of his restaurants: authenticity of the concept; new and original principles of management; quality of the dishes (exotic cooking at its very best, most of the ingredients are imported directly from Bangkok every week); quality of the décor; and high standard of service.
  • His buying office and distribution point in Bangkok supply fresh Thai ingredients to the whole group and other Thai restaurants as well.
  • 2001 saw the launch traditional ready-made dishes called ‘Kitchen Fresh’. These products are retailed at quality outlets such as Harrods in London, Galeries Lafayette, Bon Marche and Galeries Gourmandes in Paris Rob and Deli Traiteur in Brussels.
  • 2008 Opening of “Blue Spice”, production unit in Thailand exporting today a full range of Blue Elephant grocery line over 34 countries.

Career Path

1980 Creation of the first Blue Elephant- Royal Thai Cuisine - restaurant in Brussels.

1999 Karl Steppe elected ‘Man of the Year’ by HORECA* of Gand (Belgium) (* Official Hotels, Restaurants and Cafes Union)

2000 Elected Administrator of HORECA in Brussels

2001 The ‘Prime Minister Award’ is given to the Blue Elephant Group by the government of Thailand in recognition of its role as Ambassador of Thai Cuisine around the world. The numerous restaurants that form the Blue Elephant Group have also received numerous gastronomic distinctions and awards in various countries during the last few years.

2002 Opening of a new Blue Elephant restaurant in Bangkok and of a Catering School ‘The Blue Elephant Cooking School and Restaurant of Bangkok’ not only intended for International Chefs but also for lovers of Thai cooking.

2003 Karl Steppe voted Leader of the Year during the Leader’s Club Forum in Paris.

2007 In collaboration with Saphir Hotels and Resorts Indonesia, Blue Elephant introduced its sister restaurant Blue Elephant in Jakarta. Opening was in spring 2008.

2008 Opening of a new Thai Brassiere by Blue Elephant in Samui.

2010 Opening of the Blue Elephant Cooking School and Restaurant in Phuket town in the Governor’s mansion house called “Bann-Pra-Pi-Tak-Chin-Pra-Cha” on the 11 Rai Property.