Last updated: 09:00 PM ET, Sat February 13 2016

Opinion Home | Tales From the Leap

  • Shannon Wolf | February 13, 2016 9:00 PM ET

    Bangkok Cooking School: A Thai Cuisine Labor of Love

    Bangkok Cooking School: A Thai Cuisine Labor of Love

    PHOTO: Say hello to the best lamb and crab curry we’ve ever eaten! (photos by Shannon Wolf)

    The one thing I have always believed in when it comes to food, you should value quality over quantity — especially when traveling.  

    Even when you are on a budget, it is better to spend a bit more on quality, as food is not only art but therapeutic on many levels and one of the best aspects of traveling (for me at least).

    Given my love for Thai food, I attended a full-day course in Bangkok alongside chef Ian Miller and three other food enthusiasts. Before it began, I fervently hoped the course would live up to its reputation.

    VIDEO: Cook up a meal at Amita Thai Cooking class in Bangkok 

    If you had asked me before walking in that I could afford the class, based upon its name and even its interior decoration, I would have said “not a chance.”

    However, after looking at their pricing, I found that the course was actually reasonable for a cooking school and all that comes with it ringing in at 3,200 baht (in the vicinity of $100) — comparable to one nice meal and a bottle of wine in North America.

    Our class size was intimate, consisting of five people, two teachers and various assistants. We were first greeted at the 2nd floor bar with complimentary lemongrass tea, which was light and refreshing after bearing 100-degree F weather to get there in the first place.

    At 8:45 a.m., one of Blue Elephant’s chefs took us on a tour of Bang Rak Market. While there, we had the option of trying a traditional Thai coffee or tea while he brought us to various vendors showing and explaining to us the various curries, noodles, chilis and spices before bringing us back to our 3rd floor classroom.

    PHOTO: Wandering through the market, we were taught of all the various Thai ingredients and spices.

    We were given water and ginger cookies before the class started (as our bellies rumbled in anticipation) along with a quality apron to keep and a folder of four traditional Thai recipes and sauce we would make that day.  

    These included Tod Man Koong (a crispy Thai prawn cake), pineapple sauce, Pad Thai Koong Sod, Tom Jew Nua (an ancient beef soup) and Kaeng Karee Kai (a yellow curry with chicken). Being a pescetarian — although the recipes we used in class incorporated meat, I really appreciated the fact that they took my dietary restrictions into consideration and happily altered the recipe to meet my requirements.

    In the classroom, we were shown how to make each dish step-by-step with detailed instruction and a charismatic approach, including plating, design and tasting before we move into a larger kitchen where we would have the chance to recreate each dish ourselves at our own workstation. (This was a nice change since most cooking schools have you doing small bits of preparation while they cook the final product in front of you.)

    PHOTO: From learning to cooking in the classroom, we had tons of fun.

    The great thing about these dishes was that not only were they straightforward — making them easy to replicate at home — but they also proved that you don’t need complicated recipes or equipment to make great food that is both mouthwatering and visually appealing.

    When the class was finished, the dishes we each created were waiting for us in the dining room beautifully presented, making you feel as though you were VIP.

    READ MORE: New Approaches to Southeast Asian Food

    On top of it all, we also got the opportunity to try the two house wines, a lamb curry, crab curry (which was one of my all-time favorites) along with scallops, mushrooms and snowpeas. We ended the day with some unusual and decadent cakes.

    Needless to say, we ate like kings.

    Overall, from a food enthusiast and a chef’s perspective, this cooking instruction experience exceeded my expectations on every level: from the food itself to the knowledgeable staff and aesthetic. 

    PHOTO: The final results of all our hard work — A masterpiece of Thai foods and desserts.

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Shannon Wolf Tales From the Leap

Shannon Wolf Shannon Wolf is a freelance photographer and writer, traveling across the globe with an open itinerary and no intent of stopping. Originally from Toronto, Canada, she left behind a fast paced life to truly live and not just exist in an attempt to inspire others to follow their bliss. At age 26, Shannon has visited 20+ countries on four continents around the world. She has travelled overland by chicken-bus and tuk-tuks, hitchhiked by fruit trucks and through islands on horse and buggy. She has slept in the jungles of Nicaragua, on benches in London, secluded hidden beaches and she’s only getting started.
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