A Take on 2 Thai Cooking Schools, Plus Recipes

Kate Crowley
Dining after class at the Blue Elephant Cooking School

Having recently traveled to Asia to attend classes at a few cooking schools, I brought back a number of great recipes, memories and a long list of ingredients not available at Fry's. While in Thailand I had the opportunity to attend day long classes at two very different schools. Chiang Mai Thai Cookery School in Chiang Mai and Blue Elephant Cooking School in Bangkok. If you're considering traveling to Thailand and want to decide where to cook, read on for a glimpse into what each school offers and two great recipes direct from each school.

Our first school in Thailand was Chiang Mai Thai Cookery School. The campus was unique, offering open air cooking areas as well an indoor instruction rooms. They also offer affordable "home stay" accommodations that start at just $160 per day and the price includes a full day of class, a massage and a dinner as well. Classes with accommodation begin at just $50 and also includes a cookbook.

Chiang Mai is in northern Thailand and seems to be known for its beautiful, friendly people and lush landscape. It's a bit cooler than Bangkok in the south and the city moves at a more relaxed pace. It's easy to see why someone would want to settle in for a week's stay complete with cooking classes on the campus's shady grounds.

The school was the first of its kind in Chiang Mai and was started by Chef Sompon Nabnian, who is easy to talk to and charming. He begins class by teaching us to make flowers and shapes in peppers and tomatoes, warming our hands for cutting skills we will use during the day.

Kate Crowley
My travel companion poses at her outdoor work station.

While the outdoor cooking stations are a bit warm, they are shady yet provide the air movement, which is perfect for the frying and heat applied to many dishes. And the indoor, air conditioned classroom is comfortable for the more detailed instructions, given before attempting to make the dish yourself at a station. The assistants in the outdoor kitchen were helpful and because the class size is relatively small, there were 8 in our class, there's lot of time for questions that pop up while you're cooking. Our class also had a lot of younger students, under 30, a refreshing difference from classes I've attended stateside.

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