I always fancied myself a bit of a foodie. It’s hard not to when you grow up in a household like mine where food (international and “exotic” to boot) was the center of all activities and family gatherings. I’m slowly starting to see how much of a bonafide foodie I’m really not when I meet people who are truly, undeniably passionate about food.
Yui, owner and instructor of Chiang Mai’s A Lot of Thai Home Cooking Class, is a true foodie in every sense of the word. Her love of food, cooking, and sharing her wealth of knowledge about Thai cuisine is what prompted Yui to open up A Lot of Thai with her family over 10 years ago. Not only does Yui cook up some insanely good Thai food and can offer you the history and cultural significance of the dishes, she’s also extremely funny, jovial, and a fantastic teacher!
Foodies the world over, and especially those who are able to make a trip out to Chiang Mai and join A Lot of Thai’s full (belly) day or half (belly) day courses, are extremely lucky for this.
Classes at A Lot of Thai are kept small, usually no bigger than a group of eight so that each student can have personal attention from Yui throughout the day. Keeping an intimate group also allowed for interaction between participants. We really got to know one another as we shared our common cooking anxieties and it made our culinary accomplishments together all the more rewarding.
Each course began with an explanation of the ingredients used and a demonstration of how to properly prepare them. Yui taught us chopping techniques to better retain the flavor of the ingredients, explaining that in Thai cooking, ingredients that are meant to be eaten should be cut into bite-sized pieces while ingredients used solely for flavor are left whole or cut into bigger pieces to easily remove before serving. Wow! These were things that I had never thought of!
Once Yui finished her lesson for preparing an individual course, we were sent back to our own work stations to give it a try! The first attempt was difficult, but with Yui’s careful training and practice, I dare say that all of our chopping skills improved! The fact that no one (meaning myself) walked away with any cuts or missing fingers is proof alone that Yui could work magic in the kitchen!
Need further proof that Yui is a magician when it comes to cooking and teaching others how to cook? She taught me how to crack an egg with one hand! I did it on the first try, too! Awesome. I was so proud of myself! Finally I can cross that off my bucket list!
Once our ingredients were prepared, we gathered back around Yui’s work station to watch her cook each dish. Giving us step by step instructions, Yui showed us how simple Thai cooking really could be.
Armed with our woks and stovetops, we diligently went back to our own stations and cooked up our Thai dishes, just like Yui taught us. At times, it was stressful trying to remember the order of ingredients to add and how long to cook certain items were, but Yui was always there with a smile to guide us.
And so our morning flew by. Before we knew it, we had cooked up mouth-watering pad thai, aromatic Thai curry, and yummy tom yum. It’s safe to say that our bellies were quite happy. To give our overworked bellies a much needed break, the group was taken to a nearby organic market. Yui showed us how to select the freshest vegetables for cooking, as well as which Thai products we could find in our neighborhood grocery store.
The afternoon back at A Lot of Thai consisted of cashew chicken, fried spring rolls, and sticky rice and fresh mangoes. The day was long, but it didn’t feel like it at all! Of course, it certainly helped that we were eating absolutely divine Thai food throughout the day. It was smart of Yui to portion out each dish perfectly in order to pace ourselves for the full day of eating. I don’t know how any of us could have made it through sampling all six courses any other way!
A Lot of Thai Home Cooking Class is a wonderful way to introduce Thai cooking to novice cooks and expert foodies alike. Not only did I learn to make six different Thai courses, I also learned to be a better cook with the techniques that Yui shared. With the photo-filled cookbook that every students receives from A Lot of Thai, students will be able to take what they’ve learned back home and try out other Thai recipes as well! Plus, it was just a lot of fun working up a sweat at the stove and then sitting down with the group to taste our own creations!
So maybe I’m not a true foodie just yet. But with Yui’s help at A Lot of Thai, I’m definitely headed in the right direction!
To sign up for a cooking course with Yui, please visit their website.
To view all the photos from my culinary odyssey at A Lot of Thai Home Cooking Class, please visit my Facebook photo album. But be forewarned: It will make you crave Thai food for days on end!
*Disclaimer: My cooking class at A Lot of Thai Home Cooking Class was sponsored by the company, but all opinions are an accurate and honest view on my experience there.