On Tuesday I took a cooking class with Thai Orchid Cookery School. I was hesitant to sign up, given that the cooking class I took in Yangshuo was sub-par at best, and that one was supposed to be both better and cheaper than any offered in Thailand. Well, I tell you what. Why I believed the nonsense I was told in China, I’m not sure. It’s not like things were ever as they were claimed in China to begin with, and seeing how Thailand is awesomeness incarnated and the Thais are the loveliest people on the planet, I should have known better to believe that crap. But there you have it, still naive and gullible as ever.
The only reason why I considered Thai Orchid in the first place is because my friend Becky, whom I met in Shanghai, had recently been in Chiang Mai and passed along the recommendation with rave reviews. Becky’s got a solid head on her shoulders and we appreciate and value the same things, so when she tells me something is good, it actually is good. When her Chiang Mai hostel recommendation proved to be by far the best accommodation I’d had in all of Thailand, I figured she was onto something with Thai Orchid. All I have to say is: thank you, Becky!
The cooking class was amazing. Absolutely fantastic. The class was small, two couples and myself, and we made six dishes each: a soup, an appetizer, a curry, a noodle, a salad, and a dessert. We could choose any dish we wanted within each category, and the variety of preference between five people meant we got to learn (and taste!) a whole manner of dishes beyond the six we had chosen for ourselves. I chose spicy and sour tom yum soup, vegetable fried rice (as a special request instead of any of the appetizer selections, because I’d been dying to learn how to make Thai fried rice and they happily accommodated the substitution), green curry, pad thai, spicy papaya salad, and mango sticky rice. All of my favorites. All crazy delicious. I was in HEAVEN.
The class itself was phenomenally executed. Thai Orchid is a family-run business, with the daughter being the predominant instructor and her two brothers helping with preparation and dishes and teaching a dish or two of their own. Everyone spoke immaculate English, were very friendly and patient and really terrific teachers, and the cooking space, set in the family’s garden, was big and clean and well equipped. The class included a trip to the local market, where we walked around and learned to be able to eyeball the different rices and curry pastes and fresh coconut products and all the Thai produce under the sun. At the end of the day we were given a little goodie bag with a cookbook and sent on our way with full tummies and heads full of scrumptious recipes.
It was a fantastic experience, everything you could want in a cooking class, and I highly recommend Thai Orchid Cookery school to anyone interested in Thai cuisine. I can’t wait to do it again.