The Class

Location: Chiang Mai
Soundtrack: Meatloaf

I’m a bit of an amateur cook.

I love to gather my ingredients, lay them all out on the kitchen bench, turn on some Meatloaf, and lose myself in the joy of food for an hour or two as I prepare a delicious meal. A glass of wine or three always seems to make my cooking taste even better.

So when I get the chance, I love to take cooking classes to learn something new.

Last time I was in Thailand, I took a class at Gap’s House. It was full of character, and taught me about the five sensations of Thai cooking: sweet, salty, spicy, sour, and crunchy. Get the ratios right, and you have yourself a recipe for a delicious meal.

But this time I wanted to take it up a notch. I’m not really a beginner anymore. I know my way around a cutting board and how to craft a Thai meal.

I discovered that the Thai Cookery School does Master Classes – basically one-on-one sessions with Chef Sompon Nabnian, a man who I would come to learn was the head of a sprawling business empire.

I signed up to do a beginner class during the day for AUD$33. After the end of the beginner class in the afternoon, my newfound partner Kim from Spain and I would tackle a Master Class creating five dishes in three hours under the tutelage of Chef Nabnian.

In the morning, after a tour of the markets where we picked up a slew of ingredients for the day, we arrived at the cooking school.

Thai Cookery School
The school was founded in 1993 by Chef Nabnian, and has to be one of the most professionally organised cooking classes I’ve been on.
Upon arrival you’re given your station, and then ushered into an air conditioned training room where the Chefs cook and demonstrate the dish you’re about to prepare.
As an added bonus, there’s an angled mirror above the training station where you can look directly down onto the station: no more craning and peering. Just look up.

We cooked six dishes varying in difficulty, and our group of 20 had no struggles at all. We covered the basics of pad thai (or in this case, fried big noodles with chicken and sweet soy sauce), yellow curry chicken, steamed fish in banana leaves, chicken with cashew nuts, a spicy prawn salad and finally bananas in coconut milk.

If it sounds delicious, I assure you: it was.

Food, glorious food.

After the beginner class, Kim and I teamed up with Chef Nabnian for the Master Class. Since there were only two of us, we got to pick and choose the dishes to cook. We came up with:

  • Barbecued prawns with a kaffir lime dressing
  • Fried pork spare ribs with garlic
  • Lemongrass sticks with minced chicken, prawns, and pork
  • Banana flower salad
  • And the ultimate: Chiangmai Noodles with curry sauce and chicken, or the famous Khao Soi Gai: staple food of the north.

Prawn salad, anyone?Skewers are delicious AND nutritious.

It was intensive and educational, and worth every penny of the AUD$90 we paid. Kim is a cook in Spain, so he’s taking his certificate back with him to move up the corporate ladder.

Me? I’m just chuffed to have cooked such brilliantly delicious dishes under the guidance of a master.

Look out ladies, I’ve got a repertoire of meals to cook for you, and I’m not afraid to use them.

Cooking is like love. It should be entered into with abandon or not at all.
Harriet Van Horne (1920 – 1998)


4 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by Dad on December 31, 2010 at 2:30 pm

    Stop teasing me, My Son.

  2. Posted by Millie on January 2, 2011 at 1:45 am

    In case Katy Perry isn’t hungry, I’m sure I could make myself available ;)

    • That can be arranged! I need a good test subj – uh I mean – dinner companion. Yeah. Dinner companion. That’s the better description.

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