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Nov 13, 2006 05:50 AM

Any cooking classes in Thailand?

Hey there,
My girlfriend and I are going to Thailand for a couple weeks. Starting in Bangkok and then heading North and then South to some pretty beach TBD. Sorry to be so vaugue but we are still planning the specifics. We would be willing to travel for a great class though. Any suggestions?


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    1. re: Curt the Soi Hound

      I spent 4 days there. It's a lot of fun, well-run, excellent facilities and good English language instruction. The downside is classes can be quite crowded in the high season. The evening master courses are usually just a few of you at most--mine was two of us--and are much more indepth. They are much more expensive too. I don't recommend doing both in one day.

      I also took a half day course at Sompet Thai Cookery school in Chiang Mai. Very different place--quiet, laid back, only a few people at the time, a less slick setting. It has a less "corporate" feel, but I found that I got fewer corrections on what I was doing, and less of a sense of what was making my dishes go off in the different directions they do.

      1. re: Curt the Soi Hound

        I had a good experience at the Chiang Mai Thai Cookery School too. The heat in the outdoor kitchen isn't bad (it's shady and ventilated, and besides, that's how most Thais cook!) - but if you're still concerned about the heat, try an evening class.

        1. re: cheesypoofs

          Ditto--I had a great experience at this school, too. I especially liked the portions of the class where we went to a local market to look at the various fruits, see how coconut milk is made, how curries are sold, etc. If you have any interest in the markets, I highly recommend this portion of the class. It just helps put everything in context.

          Also, I thought they did a great job of talking about substitutions you might need to make for traditional Thai ingredients (ie., for galanga, kaffir lime leaf, fish sauce etc.) if you can't find them in Western grocery stores.


          1. re: The Dairy Queen

            Two additional thoughts: a friend took the classes from this school at both the in-town restaurant, The Wok, and the main complex where I went (nice space in a Thai McMansion gated community). He said the restaurant ones were better quality instruction, and lasted longer--so more time to explain things--because you did not have transit time to and from the complex.

            Also, in general, most of the English-instruction schools do EXACTLY the same dishes (part of the general trend towards imitation in tourist services). I went a little nuts and made a sheet of all the different dishes taught at 6 schools in Chiang Mai on different days, and the end result was that nothing much varied. The principal exception was the evening courses.

            1. re: mary shaposhnik

              We also ate at the Wok (a day or two after we took the class, we were craving some of the dishes we learned to make in class) and it was easy to get to. I have a vague recollection of getting terribly lost on the way to (or from) the "main complex" when we took the class.

              As long as you get the "market morning" when you take the class at The Wok, it sounds like, per Mary's advice, you might as well do that.

              I should disclose, though, that I am pretty much a novice cook. I felt this class was really covering the basics of Thai cooking for someone who wasn't necessarily a wizard in the kitchen and who hadn't had any exposure to Thai cooking in the past.


      2. I took a one-day class (half-day, actually) at the Baipai Cooking School in Bangkok. Had I known how much fun it would be, I'd have signed up for more. The recipes were very good, too.

        3 Replies
        1. re: pilinut

          Could you elaborate more please? I'm taking a class next week at Baipai.

          1. re: Mr. Roboto

            Baipai will pick you up at your hotel and take you to the school, which is a lovely house, remodeled for cooking classes. Each dish and its ingredients will be thoroughly explained, and the cooking method demonstrated. You will have your own cooking station, with the mise en place waiting for you. After you cook each dish, you can sit down to enjoy it before moving on to the next dish.

            The day I was there, we made tod num pla, tom kha gai, pad thai, and tub tim krob.

            While I would have liked to prep all the ingredients for each dish myself, I realize that the 3 1/2 hours would have been insufficient to get through several dishes. On the other hand, the lessons do give you a good feel for how Thai ingredients work together, and the various cooking methods used in the cuisine. (And I have to say that I was pleasantly surprised at how well my dishes came out.)

            Hope you enjoy your class as much as I did mine.

            1. re: pilinut

              Thanks!! I'm scheduled for Sat., 11/25, the menu consists of Chicken in Pandanus Leaf, Papaya Salad, Prawn in Tamarind Sauce, & Roasted Duck in Red Curry. I've been to Thailand about 6-7 times (can't remember) and wanted to do something a little different this trip. I had looked at different cooking courses of the 1/2 - 1 day type and decided on Baipai not only because of the price but because it takes place in a house.

              I noticed that the kitchen class area is open air (one of my main concerns at first, I would have preferred some a/c), how uncomfortable was it? I arrive in BKK the day before from L.A. and fear that I will not have adjusted to the heat & jet-lag by class time.

        2. Cooking schools are ubiquitous in Chiang Mai. There's no problem arranging a class the day before. Go into a couple of tourist officies and pick the school with the menu that appeals the most.

          1. Nice menu! I'm sure you'll enjoy cookin and eating it. Please post your favorite recipe.

            While you will almost certainly feel the temperature and humidity difference, I think you'll find that you're much better off at Baipai with the open air than you would have been in an airconditioned kitchen. I thought the place was actually very comfortable (early January). Since the class is in the morning, I think you'll be okay. I find it's the mid- late- afternoons that are tough with westward transpacific trips. (But I'm sure the prospect of a yummy Thai dinner will keep you going!)

            By the way, if you have a chance, try to have a meal Raan Jay Fai. Pad khee mao there is Heaven on a plate.

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