Take the Taste Home: Our Favourite Cooking Schools in Thailand

25 May 2015

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Perhaps nowhere is food as inexorably linked to the culture and identity of a nation than in Thailand. For those who most enjoy this flavourful exercise in food preparation, you'll no doubt want to reawaken those Thai induced taste buds upon returning home.

The best way to infuse the exotic Thai flavours into your own cooking is by learning the ways of Thai food preparation at the source—in Thailand of course—and in a country that takes its food seriously, it's not difficult to find a nearby cooking class.

For those who find themselves in the exciting resort areas of Phuket, Krabi or Chiang Mai, these courses bring a welcome mix to the cultural activities on offer. From the flavourful tom yam soup to spicy curries and fruity desserts, prepare for a taste sensation at one of these cooking schools in Thailand.

1. Shangri-la Hotel and Chiang Mai Thai Cookery School | Chiang Mai
Combine your stay at Chiang Mai's luxurious Shangri-la Hotel with an instructive, fun filled day at one of the most highly rated cooking classes in northern Thailand. Start with a preparation presentation in the state-of-the-art classroom as the chef whips up a dish for all to sample.

Fancy some Chiang Mai curry with chicken or Thai style spicy beef salad? The master chef will help you prepare your favourite meal, but not before taking you on a tour of the organic herb garden to help select the necessary herbs and spices for your meal. Like the classroom, the cooking and preparation area is expertly designed, and includes everything you'll need to prepare some mouth-watering Thai cuisine.

Of course what's a cooking school without an inviting dining area? Enjoy your creation with new found friends as you bond over the enjoyable experience. Complimentary coffee, tea and water are always available. Before leaving, each student is presented with a full colour cook book which features the day's recipes. The package includes hotel pick-up and drop-off.

2. Centara Grand Beach Resort and Ya's Cookery School | Krabi
Enjoy the gorgeous beach scenery and dramatic limestone clifftops at Centara Grand Beach Resort in Krabi. Accessible only by boat, this stunning resort is just across the bay from Phuket. Part of this package includes a morning or afternoon cooking class at Ya's Cookery School with hotel pick-up and drop-off.

Students can choose a morning class for lunch or afternoon class for dinner at Krabi and Ya's Cookery School. Touted as the first such school in Krabi, the course introduces students to the many spices, fruits and vegetables used in Thai cooking as well as the preparation of spicy and classical favourites. Choose what dishes to prepare from the extensive menu and then head out to the markets in search of the freshest ingredients.

Going by the nickname "Ya," the professional chef takes students on a journey of discovery, infusing the day's menu with flavourful soups and salads, savoury meat and noodle dishes and easy to prepare yet deliciously tasteful desserts. Ya provides hands-on guidance and demonstrates how Thai meals can be easily adapted to a vegetarian or particular taste preference. The course includes an informative recipe book and the best part, the meal that you've prepared.

3. Le Meridien Phuket Beach Resort and Pat's Home Cooking School | Phuket
From its idyllic position on a secluded cove overlooking one of Phuket's most romantic beaches, Le Meridien Phuket Beach Resort combines luxury resort stays with cultural and outdoor activities and top rated restaurants.

One activity that food lovers will want to sink their teeth into is a cooking course at Pat's Home Thai Cooking Class.  Included in the course is a trip to the market where Pat provides instruction on the best ingredients to use for Thai cooking. Pat's hands-on approach provides students with first-hand experience in the traditional preparation of Thai cuisine. Pat also provides a list of alternative ingredients to use for those times when traditional Thai ingredients aren't readily available back home.

Classes are held in Pat's lovely home where the airy kitchen has space for up to eight students. Pat even offers a fruit carving class for those who want to master the art of food presentation. Of course, the reward at the end of each cooking lesson is the meal itself. Dine with your fellow classmates as you test your own cooking abilities.

Todd Sturm

I currently live in Brisbane, Australia. No matter where my travels take me, I enjoy experiencing each destination from the perspective of the locals. Some of my favourite attractions include historic sites, national parks and architectural landmarks.