Offering the region’s best cooking instruction, the renowned Cooking School at Four Seasons Resort Chiang Mai introduces guests to the art of Thai cuisine, where both beginners and seasoned home cooks can join Thai Chef Instructor, Pirun Pumicome, in the airy, copper-pot-lined kitchen. Surrounded by tropical gardens and trees, the 56 x 30-sq-foot space is designed in traditional Lanna style.
Classes are hands-on. Within a few hours, the aromas of Khao Soi Gai (the area’s signature yellow curry noodles with chicken), Larb Muang Moo (Northern-Style Spicy Pork Salad) and Pla Tub Tim Ping, (Red Tilapia Grilled in a Banana Leaf) are wafting through the room as students whip up the dishes and then — here’s the best part — sit down to dig in. We spoke to Chef Pirun about the school.
Why have a cooking school at the resort? What’s the aim?
Pirun Pumicome: Thai cuisine is one of the world’s most popular, and we want to make it more accessible to our guests, even after they’ve returned home, by sharing some popular recipes and traditional dishes from the Chiang Mai region. A cooking class is also a great way for guests to spend time together doing something interesting and new, just relaxing and having fun. It’s a chance to join a Thai chef on his home turf and learn Thai cuisine the authentic way.
What do you love about it?
PP: The location and setting—it’s just stunning—and the incredible staff we have here. I also love sharing some of the secrets I picked up from my grandmother and my mother—two of the biggest inspirations in my life.
We’ve heard yours is some of the best instruction around. What makes a cooking school outstanding versus so-so?
PP: Our classes start with a trip to the local market where guests learn about the raw ingredients they’ll be using. More than a tour of a market, it’s actually a shopping trip; the “students” will be finding ingredients to use during the class. Our cooking school facility is also one of a kind—bright, airy, spacious, and beautifully designed. We also offer an optional fruit-carving session at the end, which gives guests a chance to learn this traditional Thai skill—it’s actually a lot simpler than it looks!
Describe Thai cuisine… what are the signature spices, techniques and flavour profiles?
PP: Essentially, we have three main ingredients: lemongrass, galangal and kaffir lime leaves. Thai food must be spicy, sour, salty and a bit sweet—all at the same time.
What’s your favourite dish to teach — and why?
PP: Phad See Eew (stir-fried noodles with black soy sauce and prawns). I myself love eating noodle with vegetables, and this one is simple to prepare.
So, how do guests get involved?
PP: Guests make a reservation for the class. They can contact the resort concierge or the cooking school to sign up. We offer classes six days a week, each with a different menu. A typical class involves four dishes, followed by lunch—so if you don’t follow my instructions carefully, you may not enjoy your meal as much! We can also arrange classes in the afternoon for children. The parents can retreat to the spa while their kids get creative in the kitchen. And aftewards, Mum and Dad get to try the fruits of their little ones’ labours.
OK, we have to know: What do you make at home just for fun?
PP: When I have some free time, I make a clear soup with chicken and tofu for my lovely daughter! – Michelle Pentz Glave
Travelling with kids? Read about cooking classes for families at Four Seasons Resort Chiang Mai.