It's a well-known truth that some of the best food in the world comes from Thailand. Thai chefs understand spicing, saucing, and how to get the most out of meat. Thai food is characterized by bold flavors above all else, and there's usually something for everyone to love. There's something else you might not know about Thai food. If you're serious about learning how to cook it, you can do just that. I know because I've spent time in Chiang Mai learning the ins and outs of Thai cooking. I spent a long weekend at the Chang Cooking School in Chiang Mai, learning from some of the world's best. Here's what you need to know.
I went in with no skills
It's hard to explain just how bad I was at cooking before I spent a week in Thailand. I hadn't gone to culinary school. I hadn't even really learned how to cook the most basic dishes. I thought that if I wanted to learn cooking in a place like Chiang Mai, I would need to bring some requisite skills. It turns out I was wrong. The Chiang Mai cooking class I fell into was the perfect one for me, allowing me the opportunity to learn from the ground up. The chefs there didn't care that I was a novice. They worked with me to give me new skills.
Getting immersed in the culture of Chiang Mai
I had heard before that Thai cooking classes in Chiang Mai were a great way to learn the local culture. Surely getting around the food of a place must be a great way to interact with the people there. This was true in my experience. I learned not only how to cook the food but also why the food is cooked a certain way. The instructors gave me tips on how the food relates to the local culture in Chiang Mai and the overall culture of Thailand. It was more than just a cooking class. It was a full cultural experience that I wasn't able to get in other parts of Chiang Mai.
What good is a Chiang Mai cooking school if you can't use the information when you get home? I didn't want to just learn a few skills and then go my way. I wanted to learn a few recipes that I could take home with me. The chefs there made sure that this happened. I learned how to cook dishes for every imaginable course. I learned to cook desserts, I learned how to cook some of the classic Thai entrees, and I even learned skills for cooking popular soup options. I don't think that the school equipped me to go home and start my own restaurant. It was close, though, giving me a few recipes that I felt comfortable with.
In addition to having a top Thai menu, the Chang Cooking School featured one of the coolest kitchens around. As a novice to the cooking world, I found it fun to see the tools the chefs use. It was interesting to interact in a modern kitchen where great food is routinely served. At times I found myself in awe of my surroundings, taking mental notes on the cool atmosphere in which those chefs worked. The best Thai food is made in kitchens with top-end equipment, where chefs are free to use their creativity. That's what I found at Chang Cooking School.
A once in a lifetime experience
I didn't know quite what to expect when I signed up for a class. I knew I would learn how to cook Thai food. I knew I'd get to spend time around local people, and I knew it would enrich my experience. I didn't know that it would be my favorite part of my trip to Chiang Mai, though. At the end of the day, I'm not sure how I could have better experienced the town and its people. I made friends that will stay with me forever, and I learned skills that I have brought home. I was nervous in the beginning, but taking a Thai cooking class was one of the best experiences of my traveling life.