Whether it’s on a takeaway or tasting menu, Thai food is beloved all over the world. The well-balanced spicy, sweet, salty and sour hallmark of this fiery yet refreshing fare is reason alone to plan a trip to the land of smiles. Where Bangkok is all rambunctious alleyways and slick city streets, it’s sunnier counterpart Phuket dishes out incredible food against a backdrop of limestone karsts, lush jungles and sandy shores.
It’s the perfect place to slot in a cooking lesson among aquatic adventures and bar hopping, something Flight Centre’s state marketing manager for Queensland, Rhiannon Doran, achieved during her 48 hours in Phuket. Food plays a big role in her travel experiences, and she always joins a cooking class in the destinations she visits. In the Phuket episode of the The 48 Hour Destination, Rhiannon finds time to introduce Greer to Pat, a well-known chef who runs Pat’s Thai Cooking School in Phuket. Here Rhiannon runs through their delicious day.
Would you consider yourself a cook?
Yes I love cooking, especially doing big cook ups on a Sunday. I like learning new techniques and trying new dishes, which is why I always do cooking classes when I travel!
Would you say Pat’s classes are suitable for beginners as well as keen cooks?
Absolutely. Pat takes you through each recipe step by step, so it’s easy for beginners. She also gives you heaps of preparation tips and is a wealth of food knowledge, so I always drop by her school when I’m in Thailand – I love introducing my travel buddies to her!
What did the day involve?
First we went to a local market to buy ingredients, and then we went to Pat’s house to set up the kitchen and begin cooking. After we made the dishes, we had the wonderful lunch that we prepared in Pat’s dining room.
What was the market visit like?
Going to local markets means you get an authentic experience. You get to see all the fresh produce and Pat explained the different uses of various ingredients in Thai cuisine. The markets are so colourful, the vendors are cheerful, and it’s great to know that you are giving something back to the community by buying local.
Was the class hands on? What dish were you responsible for?
The class was 100 per cent hands on. You prepare and cook everything yourself. We made green chicken curry and tom yum soup, a spicy and sour broth made with lemongrass.
Because we were filming, we only made two dishes. Normally you would also make spring rolls and a coconut dessert during her class, too.
What was your favourite dish?
Mmmm, that’s so hard to choose, but I think my favourite was the green chicken curry as I like spicy food – I made my dish hot!
How did the food compare to other Thai cuisine you’ve had before?
It tasted like restaurant food! Pat’s little tips and tricks throughout the day ensure you make each dish the way it should be made so it’s authentic – and delicious.
What was your favourite part of the day and why?
Eating the food! It was very tasty.
What’s Pat like?
Pat and I have known each other for some time. She is always welcoming and it’s amazing to learn cooking in a beautiful destination with such an experienced and well-known chef.
Were there any tips or skills you picked up from the lesson?
Yes! Although I have done her class before, I still discovered new things, such as cooking the curry paste with coconut cream [it’s called ‘cracking’ the coconut cream] and not oil. I had been doing that wrong!
Any fun facts you learnt?
I learnt that once you use coriander leaves in cooking you can replant the stalk (with the roots intact) and it will regrow!
How would you describe the experience to your best friend?
Pat’s Thai Cooking School is a must-do when visiting Phuket. It’s a great day filled with laughs, cooking and amazing food!
Why would you recommend Pat’s class?
I think it’s really special that you get to cook in her home. You learn so much and the best thing is that you receive the recipes to take home, so you can cook an amazing authentic Thai feast for your family and friends.