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Thailand is famous for its food, so it’s no surprise that most tourists visiting Thailand want to explore the country’s cuisine, and it’s a great way to understand the Thai culture. The best way to do so is by taking either a food tour or a Thai cooking class. Here’s a look at your options for the most unique and the best cooking classes in Bangkok and elsewhere in Thailand.
Both Bangkok and Chiang Mai have an abundance of Thai cooking schools, but the reality is that it’s possible to find someone offering classes just about anywhere in Thailand. Most classes are similar, with a standard offering of teaching a soup, a curry, and a stir-fry. Some classes aim to woo customers by offering to teach lots of dishes (as many as 15 in four hours!) at a bargain price. Other schools change the menu every day, and others allow you to learn whatever you want to.
In Bangkok, the huge diversity of cooking classes means prices can run anywhere from 1,000 to 4,000 baht per person. In Chiang Mai, cooking classes are so commonplace that they have become almost a commodity – plenty of schools offer classes for 1,000 baht or less, but there are also some more unique offerings based on the city’s outskirts.
Most schools offer just a half-day class but, it you want to go back home an expert in Thai cooking, there are a few out there that offer longer sessions!
Take a look at our breakdown of some of the more unique cooking schools in Bangkok.
The not-for-profit Courageous Kitchen was born out of the In Search of Sanuk charitable initiative providing emergency food and housing for poverty-stricken families and children in Bangkok. This included small cooking classes for the children, for which the project quickly became known.
Nowadays, Courageous Kitchen runs regular cooking classes and ‘Street Food 101’ tours and classes that provide revenue to help feed and train those in need in Bangkok. Cooking classes include the usual fresh market tour and guided cooking session, with up to three dishes from a menu that includes the likes of pad thai, tom kha soup, and pad krapao stir-fried basil. Alternatively, the small-group Thai Street Food 101 custom tour helps to decode the innumerable dishes that make up Bangkok’s vibrant street food culture, including plenty of tasting.
Pickup from BTS Punnawithi or Udom Suk; www.courageouskitchen.org
The Bangkok Thai Cooking Academy is a relatively new arrival on the Bangkok cooking school scene, and it’s conveniently located beside Bang Chak BTS Skytrain station. This modern, air-conditioned cooking school runs not only regular Thai cookery classes, but also training for professional chefs – which gives you an idea of the high standards you’re working to here.
The regular half-day classes teach a total of six dishes (including a curry paste) – more than many schools – from an extensive but generally pretty standard selection; expect the usual stalwarts like green and red curry, tom yum, pad thai, satay, and fish cakes to make an appearance, alongside a few dishes that are seen in cooking schools ever so slightly less often.
In a nice touch, students can pick the dishes they want to learn to cook so that each class is unique, and there’s also the opportunity to tour a local market as well as take an in-depth look at how to make Thai staples like sticky rice, curry pastes, and coconut milk from scratch.
Sukhumvit Road (BTS Bang Chak); 080-770-6741; www.bangkokthaicookingacademy.com
This immensely popular Bangkok cooking school has apparently offered TripAdvisor’s number-one classes since 2011. The Chef Leez school certainly prides itself on its review rating, as well as the value for money it offers by squeezing as many as 12 dishes into a single class, all while focussing on small class sizes with an average of eight students or less.
The story of Chef Lee herself is also impressive – as well as speaking four languages, she apparently started cooking at the age of five in her grandmother’s restaurant. She has been teaching Thai cooking for more than 10 years, and today still leads the classes at her school. After being taught to make a number of dishes from a pretty standard roster of Thai staples, students also get access to an online library of recipes and refresher videos. Just note that the somewhat remote location on the northern outskirts of Bangkok is a bit of a drawback.
Seri Thai 57 Road, Ramintra; 086-568-1311; www.chefleez.com
Sathorn’s Blue Elephant is the grand dame of Bangkok cooking schools, with a distinct focus on high-end royal Thai cuisine that sets it apart from many of the other options in the city – though it’s not cheap. The school is housed in the historic old, Fine-Arts-Department-recognised Thai Chine building that was once home to the luxurious Bombay Department Store (conveniently located by Surasak BTS Skytrain station), and follows in the footsteps of Blue Elephant restaurants in Brussels, London, Copenhagen, and Paris. The Blue Elephant brand is also behind a range of popular Thai ingredients sold in supermarkets around the world.
Like at other cooking schools, regular Blue Elephant half-day morning cooking classes incorporate a visit to a local market followed by a session learning to make a selection of Thai dishes. At Blue Elephant, however, the focus is on ‘lost’ popular dishes from the past that have long since disappeared from today’s repertoire of famous Thai recipes. These include the likes of lon taojiew puu, a dip of soy paste and crab, and a particularly prizes beef massuman curry.
South Sathorn Road (BTS Surasak); 02-673-9353; www.blueelephantcookingschool.com
This Bangkok cooking school’s name is always one to raise a laugh – especially when you see their guides’ t-shirts proclaiming ‘I cooked with POO and I liked it’ – but in fact it’s inspired by the founder’s nickname Poo, short for Chompoo, or ‘rose apple’.
Since turning her hand to cookery classes after struggling to make ends meet as a street-food vendor, Poo has led her cooking school to be a remarkable achievement amongst the hardship of the Khlong Toey slum area she has long since called home. In the process, the company has trained up many of Poo’s neighbours in culinary and English skills, and taken them onboard to run classes, too.
Classes at Cooking with Poo start with a tour through Khlong Toey wet market – one of Thailand’s largest fresh markets, and perhaps its most famous – before taking on four dishes from a selection that includes run-of-the-mill staples like pad thai, green curry, and stir-fried beef with cashew nuts, as well as slightly less common pomelo salad, lemongrass salad, and beef salad.
Khlong Toey slum (pickup from EmQuartier shopping mall; BTS Phrom Phong); 080-434-8686; www.cookingwithpoo.com
If you are looking for a cooking school in Bangkok or even the rest of the world then check out Cookly to search for the perfect school for your needs. Great platform for your cooking school needs.
If you’re looking to explore Bangkok’s unbeatable food scene but you would prefer to have someone to cook for you, our Food Tour: Evening Food and Tuk Tuk Adventure is just the ticket! Take a look at the details here.
Where is your favourite cooking school in Bangkok? Let us know in the comments!
All photos by relevant cooking schools.
At Expique our mission is to help people discover the real Bangkok and the local cultures. We do this through a range of experiences including Food Tours, Walking Tours and Tuk Tuk Tours
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