After travelling around Thailand for a month it was finally time to learn to cook one of the world’s best cuisines. I was in Chiang Mai before heading off to Laos.
The city has lots to offer and cooking classes are one of the popular activities. I decided to go with Sammys Organic Thai Cooking School. I’d say it’s a great way to spend a day in Chiang Mai!
FIRST STOP: LOCAL MARKET
In the morning between 8-9am, we were picked up one by one (our group counted 12 persons) from our hotels and hostels. Sammy - the charming owner of Sammy’s Organic Thai Cooking School, and his co workers drove us in two pickup trucks to a local food market, where he guided us through some local products.
He explained us the different types of rice and showed us the traditional method of granting coconut flesh to acquire fresh coconut milk.
Then we were given 10 minutes to snoop around the market. We did not buy ingredients for the cooking class, because as it turned out later, Sammy grows most of the products on his own farm!
SECOND STOP: THE FARM
Next, we drove for about 20 minutes outside of Chiang Mai. Sammys Organic Thai Cooking School is located in the countryside with the beautiful surroundings of rice fields and palm trees.
One of the highlights of the farm was - as Sammy claimed - the BEST toilet in the world. Indeed, it was very unique with plants, palm trees and a view on the farm :)
The cooking venue was out in the open, under a wooden roof. Each of us had his own work station equipped with a stove and all necessary utensils.
After touring the farm, we were invited to a table where all kinds of greens and spices were laid out. Sammy explained the basic ingredients of Thai cooking such as holy basil, lemongrass, tamarind and turmeric.
The one thing that I found extremely useful was that we were given alternative ingredients that we could use in our home countries.
LET’S GET COOKING
It was finally time to get started! The cooking class included 5 dishes: curry, soup, stir fried, appetizer and dessert. Everyone was given three choices of each. For vegetarians, chicken or shrimp was substituted by tofu.
We started off by making our own curry paste from scratch using a pestle and mortar. Make sure that your cooking class has this included, as it is the key to a good curry dish!
During the process of cooking the main dishes, each of us received one-on-one tips from Sammy’s wife, who led part of the course, and I felt I was getting a lot of knowledge out of the experience.
FOOD AND NAP TIME
Honestly, I have never eaten a better Pad Thai in my life! All the food I made was extremely delicious which was mainly due to the detail-oriented cooking receipts. After having the feast of a lifetime it was time to for a nap and relaxation in the hammocks.
A while later, after the food settled in and we regained our energy, we made the appetizers and desserts, and learned more about the making of sticky rice.
At the end, we received an great little booklet to take home with us, which contained 30 Thai recipes as well as explanations of the spices. I don’t think I have a better cooking book on Thai cuisine at home :)
Around 4 o’clock in the afternoon we headed back to Chiang Mai and were dropped off at our hostels.
A full-day cooking course, that is from around 9am-5pm with Sammy’s Organic Thai Cooking School costed me 1000 baht. It included transportation to and from the school, water with the meals and the recipe booklet.
Would I recommend it?
The cooking experience and surrounding of the school was absolutely amazing. Sammy and his wife are very professional, but one might get the impression that Sammy is tired of running the same course over and over everyday. Our class consisted of only 13 people, which was nice, while many other companies have classes of 50 people. In all, I had a good experience.
Before choosing a cooking school, definitely check out the latest Tripadvisor reviews online, and compare what is included in the offer.