I love cooking. I love learning about food, buying food, cooking food and especially eating food! It should therefore come as no surprise that one of the activities that was on my Thailand Must Dos was taking a cooking class.
Chiang Mai is deemed to have some of the best cooking classes in Thailand so on one lazy afternoon, after spending the morning by the pool we decided to book a class at Zabb E Lee cooking school. There are many cooking classes available in Chiang Mai, which can make the task of picking a good one a little overwhelming. As usual my trusted method of making travel choices is to use the power of people's reviews and recommendation online.
Zabb E Lee ranks #2 on TripAdvisor. The school at #1 offers a full day of cooking which seemed too long. The school runs both morning courses 9am-2pm and evening courses 4.30pm-9pm. We emailed the cooking school, opting for the evening course (900 TBH per person) and received an email back straight away. We were asked for the name of our hotel and told to wait at the lobby at the pick up time of 4pm.
As instructed we were picked up by Snooker - our cooking instructor and charming entertainment for the evening. He was friendly and funny and put us in a good mood almost instantly with his bubbly demeanour.
After picking up the rest of the group from their accommodation (10 of us in total) we were taken to the local market. This is the only market allowed within the walls of the 'Old Town'. Here Snooker pointed out various types of vegetables, spices and local produce typically used in Thai cuisine.
We were given the chance to buy a few things to take home (like thai spices and herbs) if we so wished and were then back in the car headed for the cooking school.
On arrival one of the things that most impressed me was how well equipped, organised and clean the cooking spaces were. Everything was neatly laid out and ready for us.
First we were given a welcome drink and nuts around the dining table, this is also when we chose which dishes we wanted to cook. Everyone cooks 6 types of dishes and within each type there are 3 options to choose from. The dishes can also all be catered to your diet i.e. can be made vegan or vegetarian, can choose fish to replace meat and can be made as spicy or as mild as desired (this was great as I don't eat spicy food)
Everyone will cook one dessert (no choice) which is the Sticky Rice with Mango and Coconut Sauce.
Tom Kha Kai (above)
tom yum kung (above)
pad thai (above)
hot and sower seafood stir fried with rice (above)
typical thai rice steamer (above)
panang curry with chicken (left) thai green curry with prawns (right)
spring rolls (above)
fresh spring rolls
sticky rice with mango (above)
The whole evening was a great experience both for myself as a lover of cuisine and my boyfriend who normally doesn't even like standing in a kitchen.
We were all given clear instructions and step by step demonstrations making it an easy and stress free process. One of the aspects I was also impressed by was that everyone had individual stations and equipment meaning that we all received the same learning experience (If you have read my review of the cooking class I took in Gili T, you will know that in that class we were put into pairs and had to share tasks when preparing the meals).
The members of our group were all great fun, which made the evening extremely enjoyable and to add to the delight, our instructor Snooker constantly provided the group with an injection of fun and good humour.
I would highly recommend including a cooking class in your itinerary when visiting Thailand and I would particularly recommend Zabb E Lee when choosing one in Chiang Mai.