It was our first time in Chiang Mai, and Hubby and I were looking forward to trying authentic Thai food. Fortunately, we didn’t just get to eat authentic Thai food, we were lucky enough to have stumbled upon tons of brochures on the road about cooking schools in Chiang Mai and choosing Baan Thai Cookery School wasn’t a difficult decision to make — it’s rated as “Excellent” by TripAdvisor and recommended by Lonely Planet!
I ran through all possible details I can read about them and signed us up for an evening class via email for a class the very next day. Luckily, their staff was quick to respond and easy to communicate with so within a few minutes, our 2 slots were confirmed.
The classes are divided into 2 groups: a morning class and an evening class. The schedule for morning class is 9:30am – 4:00pm, while for evening class it’s 4:30pm – 8:30pm. To me, personally, there isn’t much significant difference in the classes. Just that in the morning class, in addition to the 5 dishes you’ll learn in both classes, they will also be teaching you how to make mango sticky rice and let you try some Thai snacks. (This isn’t a deal breaker for me, I am just after the basics of cooking Thai food. Dessert would follow next time!)
Both classes include free drinking water so don’t worry about not bringing your large water bottle to counter the spiciness of the food that you’ll be eating. 😉 And we’re each given a recipe book of the dishes we’ll be cooking in the class so make sure to take down notes when you have time.
We were also asked to choose 4 dishes per category that we’d like to learn:
1) Appetizer: papaya salad, spring roll, fish cake
2) Soup: hot and sour prawn soup, chicken in coconut milk, seafood in coconut milk
3) Stir-fried: fried noodle Thai style, fried cashew nut with chicken, stir-fried prawn with curry powder
4) Curry: chiang mai noodle with chicken, green curry with chicken, penang curry with pork
PICK UP & DROP OFF
Baan Thai offers free pick up and drop off services within the Old City of Chiang Mai. That morning, we have decided to “get lost” in the Old City so we asked Baan Thai to pick us up within the city walls and at the nearest location of our last stop — Oasis Spa. We were the first ones to be picked up at 4:00pm, and our open-air van continued to 3 more locations before we headed to the school.
We arrived in school at exactly 4:30pm. We were oriented by our very knowledgeable instructor, Nikki (did I spell her name correctly?), about the dos, don’ts, and what-to-expects from the class.
After the quick orientation, we walked to the market and were introduced to a world of abundant Thai ingredients. It was like heaven! I love grocery shopping even before I became vegetarian and haven’t lost my love for it yet. (Hubby and I were shocked to see that for a developing country, their outdoor market is clean.) There, we stayed for around half an hour — three quarters of it was devoted to showing and explaining to us the ingredients, while a quarter of it was given to us to freely roam the market by ourselves. Afterwards, we headed back to the school.
Walking to the market.
Market in Chiang Mai near the school.
Variety of vegetables available in the market.
Before our cooking classes started, we were asked to leave our personal belongings in a small, hidden area between the dining room and the kitchen. We were then divided into groups according to the dishes that we’ve selected.
Each group member gathers around the table in front of each prepared cutting board and chef’s knife. We were then taught how to cut and chop the ingredients (slice, dice, back slicing, rock chopping, etc.) and bring them to our personal cooking stations where the instructor shouts the cooking instructions to us step by step. We’d follow and finish each dish satisfied and in awe that we can cook authentic Thai food!
Students watching the instructor (the one with the pink headband) demonstrate a recipe before they start with theirs and copy her.
Instructor showing us how to cook our prepared ingredients.
Here are some awesome food that we’ve cooked:
Hot and sour prawn soup
Penang curry with pork
Seafood with coconut milk
Green curry with chicken
Every dish is very fun to prepare and cook, and this is all thanks to our enthusiastic and helpful instructors. The downside is that for the food portion that we’re preparing and eating, the price isn’t cheap. However, if you ever happen to visit Chiang Mai, I would suggest you still try their cooking class. It’s a once in a lifetime experience anyway and will not only gain new knowledge in Thai cooking, you will also meet cool new people.
For more information or if you plan to register in one of their classes, visit Baan Thai’s official website here. Or email them at firstname.lastname@example.org
Morning course: THB1,000 per person
Evening course: THB800 per person