It is extraordinary how a capital city characterized by the most horrific of traffic jams is also populated by the some of the world’s most charmingly warm and patient people. To see Bangkok beyond its urban walls, consider signing up for a Thai culinary class, quickly catching on as an institution of discovery for visitors. This time, we chose Baipai Culinary School’s half-day course held in the Lat Yao district, located minutes from the city’s famous Chatuchak market.
These classes typically begin with a visit to the local market- an experience in itself. After a 90 minute van ride from downtown Sathorn to Chatuchak, we were greeted at the bustling market by our morning guide. Energetic and animated, she guided the class through the maze of small local stalls to seek out the vegetables and ingredients for the course. We found ourselves picking up a selection of lemongrass and bell peppers, fresh coconut milk and a medley of local curry spices. Typical of impeccable Thai service, we were well taken care of, with ice water bottles being handed out swiftly through the walk to make sure we were always well hydrated!
We then arrived at the school- a quiet, modern suburban bungalow set amongst a luscious garden. At Baipai, like in most well-run Thai cooking classes, the participants get to prepare the ingredients- typically with some magic aid. What this means is that there is staff on hand to handle the difficult cuts and to help the squeamish- no fear if you have never de-veined a shrimp! Only the fun cutting and pounding of spices with pestle are left for the participants!
Perhaps the best part of such classes is that, generally, one is set up to succeed, regardless of cooking experience or flair. With observant chef-assistants on hand throughout the class, following the chef’s instructions is a breeze. Thai style cooking involves the Asian Wok and pots for curries. Controlling the flame and heat is probably the trickiest bit, but the chef assistants come in at the right moment to prevent any charred noodles or rice. In Baipai’s case, the assistants work so unobtrusively that one can experiment with the cooking, yet take comfort that main course for lunch is always under those caring, watchful eyes.
We conjured up a mouth-watering course of Phad Thai (traditional moist rice noodles with shrimp in a sweet-savory blend), Satay Chicken ( Skewered BBQ chicken with Thai marination) and Spicy Grilled Beef Salad. Not bad for first timers to Thai cuisine! Through the chef’s animated commentaries, it became a fascinating journey into Thai culture, customs, history and people- all while picking, shopping, chopping, barbecuing, stir-frying and enjoying the creation of a fulfilling meal.
For more information on Baipai Cooking school and class schedules, please see
8/91 Ngam Wongwan Road, Soi 54
Ladyao, Chatuchak, Bangkok 10900
Tel: 662 561 1404