Food is a vital part of any trip, especially to a country like Thailand, where unique culinary discoveries await at high-end restaurants and outdoor food stalls alike. But why stop at eating when you can take the flavors of the destination back home? Sign up for any of these fabulous, hands-on cooking classes so that your Thai foodie fantasies don’t have to end just because your trip did. Plus, won’t mealtimes be that much sweeter knowing that you cooked your Pad Thai yourself?
Samui Institute of Thai Culinary Arts: Since Roongfa Sringam (who worked in the kitchens of several Thai hotels for about a decade) opened SITCA in 1999, this cooking destination has become a major stop for visitors to Koh Samui. Sringam has been invited to the Culinary Institute of America for Thai cooking demonstrations, which has only added to SITCA’s popularity. Tucked inside a three-storey building just minutes away from tourist-favorite Chaweng Beach, a class at SITCA won’t derail you from a sand-and-sun itinerary for too long. Recreational classes are available daily, where you’ll take on the usual suspects like making curry paste or spring rolls. But more intensive six-day (or twelve-day) program is also on offer for the truly dedicated foodie.
Island Organics: This intimate operation in the middle of Samui sets itself apart from many of its local competitors by having its own organic vegetable farm, where owner Khun Lat grows Thai basil, coriander, cucumber and more. Classes, which are held on Monday, Wednesday and Friday, start with a visit to the micro farm where students will learn about Lat’s sustainable farming techniques plus help pick herbs and vegetables they’ll need for the actual cooking. Lat focuses on teaching her students about more traditional and well-known Thai dishes such as Pad Thai, chicken satay and papaya salad, but she’ll happily tweak the menu for special requests made in advance.
Where to stay in Koh Samui
Blue Elephant: This renowned school, with second location in Bangkok, organizes twice daily (morning and afternoon) cooking classes, and each day the menu is different, but usually features an iconic dish that you’ll want to recreate at home, whether that’s the Pad Thai or the Massaman Curry. Each session begins with a welcome drink at the Blue Elephant Bar followed by a market visit with the chef before the class gets busy with the four-course menu. For those looking to get a truly immersive experience, sign up for the five-day, private-chef courses. You’ll never have to order takeout again!
Six Senses Yao Noi: At this luxury resort — located 45 minutes by boat from Phuket, the 2.5-hour class commences with a tour of the on-site herb garden where you’ll learn about some of the indigenous crops grown in this pocket of the world. The actual cooking is held at the Thai Sala, an open-air hut surrounded by fragrant banana leaves. Thai cooking classes are offered on Monday, Wednesday and Friday. (Occasionally, an Indian one can be arranged, too.) Mondays are usually dedicated to learning about dishes from the south of the country, such as the iconic Tom Yam Goong, the hot and sour prawn soup that’s offered in every Thai restaurant in the world. You can also try your hand at shredding coconut meat using a traditional tool.
Now that you know your way around a Thai market and how to make a fabulous Thai meal, take full advantage of your Phuket or Koh Samui villa’s well appointed kitchen and start recreating some of your favorite Thai dishes. If you prefer to stay close to home, talk to your concierge about private cooking courses at your villa.
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