The new foods that I encounter and taste for the first time on my travels provide some of the best memories. I often try to pick up some new knowledge about local ingredients and recipes by talking to chefs, vendors or street cooks. This way I have greater success of recreating these flavours in my own kitchen for friends and family.
Increasingly there are more and more cooking schools on offer. Some tend to be more of a demonstration for larger groups where the school staff have prepared the majority of the ingredients in advance. Most likely you then get to roll something or do a quick stir fry before tucking into the prepared dishes. Others may offer a more personal and in depth instruction where you prepare the entire dish from start to finish. This way allows you to learn newer knife skills and cooking techniques.
When enquiring about a cooking class it is a good idea to find out the size, length and cost of the class. This will help you in deciphering the style and amount of actual hands on cooking that you will be doing. In general, the larger the class the more talking and demonstration by the instructor will take place. Whereas smaller classes tend to go on longer and be more hands on for the participants. If you are a food professional (chef, writer, food stylist, etc…) you may want to ask about doing a private class. Your skills are more advanced than the other participants and you will already be familiar with some of the basic cooking ingredients and dishes. A private session will allow you to personally learn more dishes and ones that are slightly uncommon but are often of interest to a culinary professional. Most schools will have a minimum number of students for a class to take place so you may have to pay more in order to get that private session.
I have compiled a list of popular independent cooking schools throughout Asia, with extremely knowledgeable instructors, whose focus is to share their country’s or region’s specialties. The majority of the classes tend to be a half or full day. There are some that are more intensive lasting a week or longer.
Linna Culinary School
Smokin Pot Cooking School
229, Group 8, 20 Ousephea Village, Battambang. (Near Angkor Hotel)
T: 012 821 400
Traditional Khmer Cooking School
Lazat Malaysian Home Cooking
Cookery Magic Cooking Class
Silom Thai Cooking School
Hoi Chi Minh/ Saigon
Saigon Cooking Class
Saigon Culinary Arts Centre
40/18 Lam Son, Phu Nhuan District
T: (08) 3551 2400