Having been a regular visitor to Thailand since the late 1980s, I was delighted to discover recently that the Thai Cookery School in Chiang Mai has a website. Way back in 1996 (I think!) I signed up for a one-day Thai cooking course at the School, with Sompon Nabnian. This was back in the days when such cookery schools were a real novelty and an innovative idea to offer a fun and useful activity for tourists. These days cookery schools are all over the place, of course. I doubt if many, if any, are as good as the original.
Despite it being 13 years since my cooking class with Sompon, I’ve never forgotten the experience and still consult the little yellow booklet of recipes we were given after the class. I’d always been interested in Thai food and Sompon’s cooking school was a perfect introduction to learning how to cook proper Thai food – none of your westernised rubbish here!
The class started when we met at a central point in Chiang Mai. There was a group of about half a dozen of us of all nationalities and ages. Next we were taken to a local market. Sompon showed us the Thai produce on offer on the market stalls and we were encouraged to try things – many of which we’d never seen or heard of before. It was fun as well as being very educational.
Sompon is great fun. They say Thailand is the Land of Smiles, and Sompon is typical in that he smiles, and laughs, a lot.
After buying the produce at the market which we would use for the day’s cooking, we set off for his school, which was situated beside his suburban home. I can’t remember much about it, other than that it was a lovely day out and I learned loads.
I subsequently went on to teach myself Thai cooking, both from books and by observing Thai cooks. But that one day’s foundation in the subject, I’m sure, made a heck of a difference to my progress.
Having such fond memories of Sompon’s cookery school, I was delighted to see it reviewed positively in a glossy magazine – hence I discovered how well he had progressed his business since those early days.
On offer are basic courses, master classes, stay and study trips, and a gourmet restaurant too. I’m hankering after a trip to Chiang Mai to do some of these master classes.