Thai Kitchen Rules

27 April 2011

Flight Centre's guest blogger Mel Travelled takes a cooking lesson at the Cashew Nut restaurant in Phuket. Rated as a must do on Mel's "things to do in Asia" list Mel shares the experience with us...

When I am in Rawai, Phuket, Thailand most evenings I can be found at the Cashew Nut restaurant enjoying a dinner alone or sitting around a table with a friendly bunch of travellers (soon to be called friends). We are all there for the same reason. The unbelievably delicious, authentic food, hospitality and Sai, the lovely owner.

 Phuket

During my most recent visit Sai suggested for me to have a cooking lesson with the Cashew Nut restaurant Chef. The lesson cost 1500 Baht which is about $45 AUD. Being my usual eager self I booked a lesson for the next day.

At 6:30am on the day of my lesson I was perched on the back of Sai's scooter as she doubled me to the market to purchase the items needed for my cooking lesson. Jumping off the back of my ride I soon realised that I was the only foreigner in sight. Being blonde and a foot taller than everyone else, I was not the only one to notice that I was different. I quickly realised this experience would be very difficult to pull off without a local to guide you.

The market was absolutely buzzing with activity. There were over 100 stalls owners squeezed into tiny little cubicles all yelling from under their makeshift stalls which consisted of tarpaulins, blankets and everything else they could find to provide shelter from the harsh Thai sun. There were smells of fish, raw meat and spices coming from every direction. Although the produce was “same day fresh” and the fish were still alive I must say I did need to hold my breath more than a few times!

At the market I was mingling with the Thai locals and thanks to the few Thai words that Sai taught me I was bargaining and conversing with the stall owners! I'm pretty sure I was speaking the worst Thai they had ever heard, but they got the general idea and I had a lot of fun! Sai also showed me how to give an offering to the Monks.

Later in the evening, with all my ingredients lined up (many I can't pronounce) the Chef began to instruct while Sai translated from Thai to English. I did the class one on one, or two on one if you include the translator. Group classes are also available.

Not only did I learn how to make my favourite meals but the whole day was an experience I will keep with me for life. Given the opportunity I would do it again. When I travel I always make sure I spend some time doing what the locals do.

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