Asian cooking classes with Michael
I have two wonderful friends who frequent the orient and the other night whilst they were visiting Darwin, from Adelaide, I asked Michael to share his experience about his cooking classes when on their trips to Asia. On their first trip to an Asian country, Michael and Robert were looking in the hotel lobby at the board about ‘what fun things you can do while here’ and Michael spotted ‘cooking classes’. “Yay!” “I could do that, it would be fun.”
Michael has since learned that most hotels in Asia have free cooking classes on the list of things to do. So if you check into a hotel in Asia look at the notice board. Most of the islands have pamphlets for classes but they tend to be a bit expensive compared to the hotel offers.
For Michael, the beauty of cooking lessons lies in the fact that Australia is such a diverse multicultural society. You can go to any market and see a wonderful array of produce…but how do you cook it? Great restaurants cook beautiful and exotic food with ingredients grown here, in this country but….aaaahhhh, I want to cook it. But how?
My husband and I have been privy to Michael’s gastronomic creations when they visit Darwin. A visit to our local Rapid Creek Market is a must. There is no shortage of fresh Asian produce there. On one visit Robert and I were quite impatient waiting for Michael watching him scan every single market stall, chatting to the vendors, sniffing and fondling every God damn piece of fruit, veggie, leaf! It was the build up and Robert and I were standing in a shower of our own sweat, clinging onto our brunch, dreaming about the spa and cold ale. Michael meanwhile thought he was trotting around the Garden of Eden and looked quite beatific as he gathered his goodies.
It sure paid off though because that evening we ate a delicious four course Thai meal served on banana leaf to boot. All courses were from a recent trip overseas.
Jane: Michael, what is your most memorable experience?
Michael: I think I would have to say it was on our first trip to Chang Mai. We had just settled into our hotel room and we were feeling a bit peckish. ‘Oh, where do we go?’ We walked out of the hotel room, turned left, on a whim, and about a block down the road we found a wall-less restaurant. It was not an ‘obvious’, ‘out there’ place, two stories of polished concrete and the dominant decor was orange. Out the front were two pushbikes, white with orange baskets. We thought, ‘this will do’ and sat down. A very polite and lovely waitress came to greet us with menus and ‘bevvies’. The menu was contemporary, well presented with an explanation of each dish. We dined there and the meal was beautiful and the ambiance was lovely and when we were finished we went on our way. We revisited the next evening, given our previous experience and during the course of our meal the proprietor, whose name is Pum, came over and asked how our meal was and she was in for a friendly chit chat. She mentioned she had just opened a cooking school. As I had done several cooking classes in Asia, I was quite keen to sign up. I was her first ever student and enrolled in the Full Day Course. (There are several options and the Full Day Course is a one on one teaching day)
So at 0800 the next day Michael walked down to the restaurant. First up a trip to the local markets to learn about and select the necessary ingredients for the several dishes they were to prepare and cook. Hence, the pushbikes parked out the front. This was an invaluable experience because on return home when going to the market Michael now knows what’s what in that plethora of green.
Back at the restaurant kitchen, Michael was taught how to prepare the numerous dishes in the culturally authentic style which included; how to chop the food, how to cook the food and how to present the dish. Pum told Michael that the most important ingredient is that you cook with love, that you cook like you are cooking for your mother or father or for anyone you love, that you must always cook like that, you must always cook with that in mind.
For Michael, cooking lessons have given him confidence and it means that on return to Australia he can cook beautiful food to share with his friends.
We certainly appreciate his beautiful gift to us, even if we did get a bit impatient at the market with him. Mental note to self: Take notice next trip to Rapid Creek Market with Michael.
Michael has learned a quite a selection of entrees, mains and desserts and has shared a couple of recipes with chooroo. You will find Plaa Pad Naam Phrik Pow and Coconut Dream in the Recipe section.
Thank you Michael for sharing your story with chooroo.
The website for Pum’s cooking school