Thai cooking takes a lot of practice to get good at it. I wouldn't bother.
#2 travelrock has been a member since 19/4/2008. Posts: 209
lots of folks would consider a thai cooking class an essential part of a trip through thailand, and chiang mai certainly has several choices from which to choose.
on our last trip there my wife attended the cooking class offered through Gap house, although several of the others we saw advertised looked similarly good. she paid 900 baht at the time, which was for a full day (something like 9 am to 3 pm), and included all materials, lunch, transportation, and food to take home that evening. but this was awhile ago now so prices may have changed.
the day started with a pick up at Gap house and a trip through one of the more traditional thai markets up near CM University. after that they took all the ingredients they'd purchased to the cooking facility, and learned how to chop and otherwise prepare them. perhaps the only disappointment for her was that most of the hands-on prep work was actually done by school staff and not by the students.
they cooked several dishes (students doing the work this time) and enjoyed a wonderful lunch, then cooked a few more dishes to take home for dinner. i remember eating the food that evening and it was pretty great.
i doubt you'll become an expert after just a day of training, but you should have a wonderful time no matter which school you select. and my wife now makes with confidence a pretty decent phat thai as well as a tasty masaman curry. have fun.
as a follow up to my previous post, there is also a heading called "sights and attractions" in the Chiang Mai section of the website. it has an area devoted to thai cooking classes (4 out of 5 stars) and list the names and contact info for over a dozen schools. definitely give it a look.
re your other question, towards the bottom of the page they also list Bua Thong waterfall (3 out of 5 stars) as an area attraction. see what you think.
in any case, this info is at this link:
"Thai cooking takes a lot of practice to get good at it. I wouldn't bother."
Although I can't help with the cooking classes in Chiang Mai, I can tell you (after working for 7 years at 3 Thai-owned restaurants and a catering company that specializes in Thai cuisine) to ignore the statement above.
In many ways, what makes the cuisine so great is its simplicity - most of the common dishes are related in ingredients, usually balancing the salty, sweet and spicy. Once you understand how to blend about 10 to 20 basic ingredients, you can learn to make just about anything, and Thai cooking encourages a fun, artistic approach. It's all about the right proportions of ingredients, but what that means depends on the individual's taste. Like cooking of all kinds, it does take some practice, but that's why it's fun!
"Although I can't help with the cooking classes in Chiang Mai, I can tell you (after working for 7 years at 3 Thai-owned restaurants and a catering company that specializes in Thai cuisine) to ignore the statement above."
Well after eating thai food for years and being married to a thai that it takes lots of practice to make good thai food. Most thai restaurants serve up very average food.
"Once you understand how to blend about 10 to 20 basic ingredients"
Yeah only 10 to 20.
You are far better off searching in your area for a restaurant that serves regional specialities like northern food or issan food. You won't learn that at a 1 day cooking class.
1 day cooking classes are just a tourist trap.
#6 travelrock has been a member since 19/4/2008. Posts: 209
perhaps the one-day cooking classes are just a tourist trap. but i suspect that is beside (or perhaps exactly) the point.
i'm not particularly interested in attending the cooking classes either, but my wife was, and she had a wonderful time. plus, after all, she was on vacation.
more importantly, she had an opportunity to experience thai food in a more in-depth and meaningful way than just ordering off a menu, to see which ingredients are used in the food, to see how different dishes are made, and then to enjoy eating something she had a hand in making. she loved it. odds are monkee will too.
If you want an in depth and meaningful cooking experience make some thai friends and try some home cooked meals, not some 1 day course aimed at tourists.
#8 travelrock has been a member since 19/4/2008. Posts: 209
wow. wouldn't that be great if everyone who visited Thailand had a chance to make Thai friends and try a few home-cooked meals. that's seriously ideal. but i'm not sure it is a practical or realistic suggestion for the vast majority of people who visit the kingdom.
the funny thing is that i have lots of Thai friends too, and while a few of them are pretty amazing cooks, most of them don't cook, have never cooked, and don't really know their way around the kitchen.
i'm thinking that in my own case, i don't do much cooking either, and just because i'm a westerner doesn't mean i'd do a good job introducing my native cuisine to others.
i double checked with my wife, by the way, and she said that she did learn a few useful things during her one-day cooking class. the problem, she said, isn't that she doesn't know how to prepare the food (it isn't rocket science, apparently), but rather that she can't easily get the ingredients she needs to make it properly.
i'd like to hear back from monkee too, to see if monkee was expecting to pick up quite a bit of thai cooking tips or just have a fun experience. whether it is a course aimed at tourists or not, i still think these cooking classes are a great time, and like i mentioned above, travelfish gives it four out of five starts. cheers.
Lady Fondo and I had a good day out at a cooking school on a farm near Chiang Mai. It's one of the usuals, so you should be able to find it easily enough.
It's important to note that we are that second rate type of person known as tourists, hence our enjoyment probably.
I would ignore the snarky "tourist" comments ... If you enjoy cooking this is a great way to spend a day or two..( there are some that offer multi day) Some include market trips to pick up your veg & meat. With that said there are some bad ones where you don't actually get to prepare anything just kind of put ingredients in a wok (i.e Blue Elephant in Bangkok - the worst 1 day in my estimation) but in Chiang Mai we went to the " thai chocolate" cooking school a family run operation which was great- it was an outside ( covered) backyard kitchen and you chop all your ingredients and prepare all your dishes.It is a good way to experiment with some thai flavors.. no one expects to come out a professional Thai chef..but my Thai cooking did improve from these classes ...and we all had so much fun !!! ( which is the point of a holiday isn't it? If you ever go to Koh Samui the SITCA is fantastic too... and they offer professional chef courses there..
#11 evanM has been a member since 20/1/2009. Posts: 2
Well I have to admit that the reason we are going to take a course if for the fun of it. My Pad (Phat) Thai is pretty good already!!!! :)
I used to work in a few restaurants back in the day and have always been able to hold my own in the kitchen and this just seemed like a fun way to spend a day.
Who wouldn't enjoy cooking and eating fresh food for an entire day!?!
TRock, I agree finding a local would be ideal but probably won't happen. To learn about local ingredients and how they work together does take a long time, more than I really have. I'll just get some basics and go home and try and impress my friends that love Thai food!
You hit the nail on the head for the most part. It's something to do while I'm on holidays. Not going to be life altering (of course 5 extra chilis can do magical things)but I'm sure a lot of fun.
Thanks for the insights!
Why don't you stay in an apartment with a kitchen and go to the local market buy some stuff and cook it then?
Cooking is about experimentation anyway not following recipe books.
The best cooks invent their own version of a dish.
#13 travelrock has been a member since 19/4/2008. Posts: 209
I could and can do that at home. The problem being that I could end up buying Mara Ki Nok instead of Bai Cha Ploo because I don't know the difference between bitter melon and bitter leaf. So unless I get some form of instruction, my bitter melon soup may taste like bitter leaf soup and we don't want that :P
cooking is actually all about science if you get right down to it. Bread doesn't rise because you get lucky. It rises due to mixing the right things in the right amounts.
We may have stumbled onto certain tastes and ways of prep but by following a basic constant guideline or formula, the food should turn out the same every time.
Good Cooks have a broader range of different techniques and knowledge of foods so that when they make a dish, they have a better chance of making something taste and look better than most people.
I agree you are right that you do not need to follow a cook book per se. But you have to admit, you have to follow the basic recipe to make something than add your own twist to make it a little different.
Go back to making bread. Take basic bread dough and add dried fruit. Or add cinnamon. Or be different and add hot chili peppers. You still had to follow the basic formula but then you get to experiment with adding something different.
The best cooks still take basic recipes (they can't detour from the scientific formula) and then they add their twist.
So, I'll go to a cooking class for the fun of cooking and to get a few ideas on how to differentiate between melon and leafs which are both bitter.
what the hell has making bread got to do with thailand?
thais love rice not bread!
#15 travelrock has been a member since 19/4/2008. Posts: 209
Also on a 1 day coooking class you'll learn 4 basic recipes. They won't cover much at all.
#16 travelrock has been a member since 19/4/2008. Posts: 209
what the hell does having fun have to do with a vacation? T Rock, you need a vacation.
I'm not going to open a restaurant. I just want to waste a day cooking some meals so that when I go home, I can impress (perhaps bore or poison) some of my dearest friends with sublime stories, pictures and food.
I understand that it will be a waste of my time according to some but am willing to take that risk.
I did the same thing with skiing, scuba diving and drinking and find them to all be worthwhile sports now. Perhaps this will have the same effect :P
Oh my god! Another perfectly good thread ruined my TRAVELCOCK!
Somtam - seriously, its time to ban this prick! Im getting bored of coming here now and reading this shit. Please get rid of him coz its dragging the quality of the info on this site down quickly.
i might have asked differently, but i'm afraid i agree with Jon. the endless predatory comments by travelrock are poisoning the message board.
this kind of stuff takes the fun out of being here and drives away people from Travelfish. and like Jon says, it drags down the quality of the site as well.
if travelrock can find it in his heart to play nice, that would be great. but if he can't, i have to second Jon's request that you ban people behaving like this from the site. regards.
I agree with both Jon and exacto. Please consider banning him. He responds rudely to almost every post; fails to give any information as to why he holds such beliefs and generally treats us 'tourists' like scum. He doesn't encourage constructive thought or contribute to the forum in any meaningful way other than to discourage people from trying out new things. Please consider correcting this nuisance. Thanks.
Sorry to steal your thread, monkee.
#20 cubedweller has been a member since 23/2/2008. Posts: 35
To answer the original question....
I was in Thailand last year and did a one day class and we had a blast!! Our teacher was a really sweet girl with really good English. Her husband was also really good. They answered all of our questions and were very open about Thai culture and their lives.
They are named "A Lot of Thai". My cousin was the one that found it, i think if you just google it it will pop up. It cost around 900 BHT and included 5 recipies (i think) and a full colour cookbook i still use, and a market tour.
It was one of the best days we had in Chaing Mai, I would suggest doing it and don't listen to the nay sayers. I learned enough to make the recipies i enjoyed at home.
#21 kteacher has been a member since 28/1/2009. Posts: 3