I’m probably talking out of school here because we’ve only ever been to four cooking classes in our entire lifetime, but if Siam Rice in Chiang Mai, Thailand, isn’t among the best cooking schools for tourists anywhere I’ll eat my Khao Soi.
Why do we think Siam Rice is so good? Because they nailed every single thing anyone could want in a cooking school.
Easy and Affordable
The first thing we always consider before doing anything is cost and accessibility. Sometimes things are worth paying extra or going out of your way for but doing so is never a virtue, it’s something you tolerate in the hopes that the effort and expense will be rewarded. That’s not a problem with Siam Rice.
If you’re staying in Chiang Mai’s old town area, they’ll pick you up at your door. So getting to class couldn’t be easier. And at 900 Baht (about $28) per person for a full day class or 700 Baht ($22) for a half day class, it couldn’t be more affordable either.
Huge Menu Options
Making spring rolls from scratch
Most cooking classes we’ve seen have a fairly limited menu. You pretty much make what the instructor wants to teach you, with just a few options. By contrast Siam Rice’s menu is absolutely huge, with 31 different dishes on offer.
From that list each participant gets to choose their own six-course menu to prepare consisting of a soup, an appetizer, a stir-fry, a curry, a noodle dish, and a dessert. In addition to those dishes everyone mashes up their own curry paste from fresh ingredients.
Between the two of us, we got to create and sample a whopping 12 different dishes and two different curries. What’s more, we could easily take the class again without having to repeat a single recipe.
One intangible sometimes missing from otherwise good tours is the quality of the guide. Sometimes having a knowledgeable instructor isn’t always enough. You also want them to be enthusiastic, engaging, and entertaining. Nancy at Siam Rice was all of those things. Not only did she effortlessly manage a class of nine students who were each making different dishes, she did so with an understated humor that kept the class light and, most importantly, fun.
This cooking class is no joke
Surprisingly not all cooking classes actually let you cook. That was the case with our first experience at the New Orleans School of Cooking, where we had to sit and watch the chef prepare a set meal along with about 50 other spectators.
At Siam Rice every one of our class’s nine students got their own cleaver, their own wok, and their own pile of fresh ingredients from which to create. We chopped and smashed; deep fried and stir fried; and constructed every one of our six dishes from beginning to end.
Meals You Actually Want to Eat
Of course the most important thing in any cooking instruction is the quality of the recipes. There’s little point in learning to cook something you wouldn’t want to make for yourself. And most everything we made at Siam Rice was at least as good, if not better, than the meals we’ve paid for at local restaurants. We know that without a doubt the next time we have a kitchen we’ll be adding Siam Rice’s Penang Curry to our gotta-have meal rotation.