Authored by my friend Antonia – Thank you Antonia <3
A few days after coming to Thailand and having had my first amazing experiences with Thai food – doing a cooking class became #1 on my must-do list. I was definitely not going home without learning how to create those amazing flavors that make my mouth water when I’m just thinking of them.
Where to do the cooking class and how to find it?
During my two months in Thailand, I spent time in Phuket, Bangkok and Chiang Mai so I will talk only about those places. I wouldn’t recommend Phuket because it is very touristy and the prices tend to be ridiculously high on the island. I did some quick research but was never overwhelmed by the possibilities (of course I can only speak for vegetarian cooking classes).
Bangkok would be cheaper overall so I would definitely have a closer look here. If you don’t feel like searching at all then I suggest going to May Kaidee’s cooking school (she’s got schools in Chiang Mai and NYC too). There are many different cooking courses you can take (from express – 2 hour classes – to full 10 day courses, from making tofu to fruit carving and even raw food cooking classes!)
She also has a restaurant on the same spot which is amazing and I highly recommend for either breakfast, lunch, or dinner. They do an “all you can eat” buffet on Saturdays for a good price, unfortunately I found out about it too late… Read all about May Kaidee, her restaurants and her cooking classes : https://www.maykaidee.com/
Lastly, Chiang Mai. This small old city is the “place to be” for expats in Thailand and for good reasons : surrounded by mountains it gives a peaceful vibe to it, the cultural opportunities are numerous and most important of all (for me) the food is amazing and vegan/vegetarian places are all over the place, which is a bonus. And probably the place in Thailand with the most veggie cooking classes.
I did some quick research online, some of the places that sounded promising – and a little cheaper than the one I took but with less dishes to prepare – :
- baan farm cooking school (https://www.facebook.com/baanfarmthaicookingschool/)
- taste from heaven – just go to their place in Old City to book your class (http://www.taste-from-heaven.com/)
Another way of finding a cooking class could be to stop at one of the numerous signs in the city that advertise “vegetarian cooking class” 🙂
But my mind (and heart) was already set on going to May Kaidee’s school, especially after eating at her restaurant in Bangkok. I booked my cooking class – 1500 baht – by stopping by the day before (works well during low season, during high season I would try to book further in advance).
My experience at May Kaidee in Chiang Mai
On the morning of my cooking class it was pouring. I rode my bike fast and got there 10min early but still soaked to the bone. Perfect day to spend inside, cooking!
When I met my teacher, I was surprised that I would be the only student that day. A private class 😀 How lucky! As I got to the table I happily discovered that all the spices, herbs and veggies were pre-cut, ready to use (that’s how I would be able to cook 7 dishes, prepare 3 sauces and eat most of it in only 3.5 hours!)
Nim, my teacher, started the class by explaining a bit about all the spices and herbs we were going to use. I quickly found out that the most difficult part of doing these recipes back home in Europe wouldn’t be the cooking itself (every dish took less than 15min to prepare) but to be able to find all those spices and herbs fresh and at a decent price (I am talking about lemongrass, galangal, kaffir leaves and so on).
Then she handed me a small book with all the recipes I would prepare, and in which I would add dozens of notes during the class as Nim was giving me some extra advice and secret tips to get better results.
What I prepared under the attentive eye of Nim were 3 incredibly tasty sauces/pastes, 6 delicious traditional Thai dishes and one dessert – probably my favorite in Thailand : mango with sticky rice.
For the vegans among us : the only dish I made that wasn’t vegan was the pad thai (one egg is used) but Nim asked me beforehand if I wanted to make the vegan or vegetarian version.
Every time she gave me the choice to prepare the dish to my taste by letting me play with the notes of sweetness (sugar – yeah unfortunately it’s a must in Thai cuisine to add at least a teaspoon of sugar everywhere…) , sourness (lime) , saltiness (soy sauce) and last but not least spiciness (chili flakes of course, or more curry paste). The dishes I made were incredible : obviously everything tasted great to me because I flavored it exactly how I wanted it to be, the fresh veggies and herbs also played a major part in the final result of course!
Every time we were done preparing 2 or 3 dishes, Nim gave me some time to enjoy them while she was doing the dishes and setting up the cooking place for the next dish. Obviously it was wayyyy to much to eat for myself, and she didn’t want any. Thinking this might be the case, I brought some tupperware with me (there is a lot of waste in Asia, so I try to do a little to cut down on that). I used the tupperware I had with me to bring the leftovers back to Mike as a lunch. They also give you cardboard boxes if you didn’t bring your own container 🙂
At the end of the class Nim asked me which dish I had preferred. I could honestly not answer that question as everything was delicious and unique in its flavor.
This cooking class was definitely a highlight of my trip to Thailand.
Nim is a great, patient teacher and an amazing cook with attention to details and always concerned to make her students happy with their own preparation.