It is safe to say that one of my primary motivations for living part-time in Thailand is the availability and affordability of meals that someone else other than myself has prepared. “Domestic disaster” doesn’t seem to quite cover a past that has included the fire department being summoned during an attempt at boiling macaroni in the Cayman Islands, self-induced food poisoning from undercooking beans in Panama, and a long history of misidentifying cucumbers and zucchinis just about everywhere.
But just as my palate has slowly expanded, so too has my interest in matters of the kitchen. Over time, I’ve become interested in eating a little bit healthier and a little bit more naturally, and with that comes the curiosity of knowing what is going into your food, and the desire to be able to modify it. It’s been a slow journey. Luckily, I keep dating men who love to feed me.
Ian got that love of food from his parents. And so when they came to visit us on Koh Tao, we knew it was the perfect time to check out one of the island cooking classes. While there are a fair few available on the island, most are casual affairs that can be arranged upon request at popular restaurants on the island. There’s only one formal cooking school with a dedicated training space, take home menu booklets, and custom embroidered aprons that are the hallmark of cooking schools across Thailand, though this one comes with Koh Tao’s hallmark laid-back vibe.
Wrangling our friend Janine to join us for extra emotional support slash chopping mentorship, our group of five descended on the school on afternoon around lunchtime.
Definitely plan on a class like this replacing at least one meal. If there’s one thing I learned from my last Thai cooking class in Chiang Mai it was to avoid eating for anywhere up to a full week beforehand. (Not that I actually follow that advice — I can’t recall the last time I went more than three hours without eating that didn’t involve sleeping or hospitalization.)
Our fearless leader Mo and her assistants walked us through the motions of making one stir fry, one spring roll, and one curry, each of which we ate as it was prepared. As you can see, some of the ingredients we used came as a surprise.
I was surprised to see a full calendar of classes on the wall — Mo keeps very busy! If you’re coming in high season, it might be worth booking ahead to reserve your space on the chopping slab.
Koh Tao being Koh Tao, I was very impressed by the facilities we used. However, this is still a tiny thirteen square mile island where life moves a few paces slower than elsewhere in Thailand, so don’t expect the formality or organization of large-scale tourist cooking schools in cities like Bangkok or Chiang Mai.
Do expect to have a laugh and leave full, though.
In the past, there was little to absolute zilch to do on Koh Tao when it was raining — believe me, I’ve been hosting and heartbroken during weeks with no sun! I love that Koh Tao Cooking Class offers an option for something to do when the weather isn’t exactly beachy. You can reach them either on Facebook, at +66 815 974 525 or by simply dropping by the school, located on Songserm Road.
At 1,200 baht it’s certainly several times more expensive than your average Koh Tao meal, however it’s also a couple hours of entertainment. When we inquired, the class times we were offered were 10am-1pm, 1pm-3:30pm, and 4pm-7pm.
Have you been to a cooking class in Thailand? Tell me where and how you liked it!
Koh Tao Cooking Class did not request this review. I was a paying and happy customer.
This looks so fun! I am so interested in baking and cooking but have never taken a formal cooking class. Great idea!
I see them all the time when I travel and have taken quite a few! I think they are a blast!
Hi Alex! I stumbled on your blog when looking for some info on another possible Thailand trip, and have to say I’m officially a new fan! Loved the food last time I was in Thailand, taking a class next time is such a good idea!
Yes it really is fun! I am pretty bummed I had to back out of the Bangkok class I was supposed to take because I’m sure that too would be a really cool experience and fun to compare. I love Thai food and I can use all the practice I can get, so I’ll definitely keep taking them!
Ages ago I went to a cooking class in Bangkok – May Kaidee’s – it was great! Ha, I had just mis-read the instructions and added tons of chili flakes where I had to add chilli powder. So I couldn’t try my own concoction. Luckily, May Kaidee cooked our lunch for all of us 🙂
Ha! That is TOTALLY something I would do. Love it!
Food poisoning from beans?! Gads.
Very jealous typing from Scotland. I’ve done a Chiang Mai cooking class too, also ate enough to send me to sleep.
Yes, apparently undercooked kidney beans have a toxin that can cause blood poisoning — which the Panamanians that nursed me back to health pitied me for not knowing! Ha!
I’ve never been to Thailand, so obviously I’ve never been to a cooking class there, but I would like to try because it seems really fun and helpful. I love the introduction, so funny! 😀
Ha, thanks Bella! All sad but true stories…
I’m sending this to my daughter – she’s missing cooking living on Koh Tao, although seems to be loving Beer Pong!! 🙂
And your Fella looks so proud in the photo of you both -photos are gorgeous!!
Thanks Janice! I had a lot of fun with my camera during this class. Lots of beautiful natural light.
I did a cooking course in Chiang Mai and loved it! I always recommend that visitors to Thailand do one – it’s an easy way to get a small glimpse into the culture of Thailand, it’s always fun and also you get to eat ALL THE FOOD. Which is always yum as the teachers make it almost impossible for you to get it wrong!
So true. One of these days I need to try it without the careful eye of an instructor to see how I fare, ha.
Looks great I love Thailand and Thai food is the best!
Tell me about it! Missing it so much now that I’m on the other side of the world!
Have you been to Indonesia and enjoy it’s cuisines?
I have! You can read about my Indonesia travels here 🙂
I love this!! I took a cooking class in Siem Reap in Cambodia and it was amazing. Seriously one of the best experiences on our trip. We also did a cooking class in Paris where we started in the market, picked out what looked the most fresh for the day and made a meal around that. One of the best ways to get to know a culture is to eat their food (and cook it!)
Ah, that sounds awesome! I did a chocolate class in Brussels and a cocktail class in Siem Reap… kinda similar 😛
It’s refreshing to hear that you don’t have to be the best cook in the world in order tocenjoy a few hours here. We are heading to Thailand in Nov and have been told to take a cooking class but I have been apprehensive due to the fact that I am both a vegetarian and an awful cook. So you help to choose the menu before attending or is this something that I would struggle with?
Hey there! I think you will have no problem — vegetarians are common in Buddhist Thailand and you will find most cooking schools will be more than happy to accommodate you! Just call ahead of time. At most you do pick from a few different menu options. Have fun!
I haven’t, but it’s high time I did finally. I will when I am back in Thailand this winter!
Nice! I wouldn’t mind trying another myself… practice makes perfect!
Looks like you created some really delicious food! I love taking cooking classes when I travel, and in fact I just took one yesterday here in Morocco which I loved!
Yum! I bet there was some amazing hummus involved!
Hi Alex! Long time reader, first time commenter (shame on me, I know! ?) LOVE your blog. Cooking classes are the best. I took a week’s worth at Silom Thai Cooking School in Bangkok last year, and adored it (highly recommend, if anyone’s looking). Now my dad requests homemade Thai every time I visit!
First of all… thanks for saying hi! 🙂 I am super sad I had to miss the cooking class Ian and his parents did in Bangkok… will definitely look into the one you recommended in the future!
They say women should always know how to cook to a man’s heart. I am not a good cook too 🙁 because I never want to do much. Am considering a short stint working in the kitchen. Pay is low in this sector, but I guess it can be my practice.
I’m sure working in the field would certainly give you lots of practice! Sounds like it wouldn’t be a bad idea!
I’m amazed that being a long term traveller hasn’t seen your kitchen expertise grow purely out of necessity!
My first Thai cooking school in Chiang Mai was wonderful, my more recent one (here in Melbourne) disappointing as it was more demonstration than participation.
Always however, the food has remained scrumptious!
The thing is I have a penchant for traveling in places where it’s insanely cheap to eat out (cheaper than cooking for yourself, often!). I’m sure if I’d spent more time on the road in Europe or Australia I’d have become a bit more self sufficient but as it stands… I’m hopeless!
I am going to be in Thailand for my honeymoon in a few weeks! Would you recommend the cooking class in Chiang Mai or in Koh Tao? We only have enough time for one!
I’d do Chiang Mai 🙂 Koh Tao’s is fun and great for a rainy day but nothing compared to the one I did in Chiang Mai!