Samui Wining & Dining
Master Class

Samui Buri offers cooking classes in a unique setting.

 

15Thinking of trying a cooking class while on Samui? Well, there’s no better location than Samui Buri Beach Resort. This impressive resort, constructed in traditional Royal Thai architecture with a striking blood-red pitched roof, is set in manicured tropical gardens that lead down to a pristine beach at Maenam’s northern end.

      Class takes place next to a secluded sala in the garden, where Head Chef, Khun Suraporn Munyeun (Pon), guides wannabe chefs through the paces of cooking Thai food. Rather than being in the steamy kitchen, a table is set up outside where you’re cooled by the breeze as you learn the ins and outs of Thai cooking.

      Chef Pon has been working as head chef at Samui Buri since 2007, after starting his culinary career in 1979, working his way up, learning on the job and via mentors along the way. He’s now keen to pass on his extensive knowledge and passion of Thai food to Samui residents and visitors to the island, by way of his fun and laid-back, yet informative cooking classes.

      The intimate cooking classes can be set up for two to ten people, making a great way to pass the afternoon for a group of friends or family. In fact, PR Manager, Khun Nisa, says that they often have children cooking with their parents too. And of course, enjoying the fruits of your labour at the private dining table under the sala afterwards is very rewarding too.

      A portable cooking station is set up in the shade of large trees, and Chef Pon starts by explaining the Thai ingredients to his students. You’ll smell, taste and feel all the ingredients before you start cooking; enabling you to understand what makes Thai food so unique. It also makes finding the ingredients back home a lot easier, as you’ll be able to recognise them at Asian markets.

      This is by no means a demonstration, but rather an active class where the students participate as much as possible. Chef Pon will show you how to chop, slice and dice, but then it’s up to you to do. He encourages you to taste sauces as you go along, adding more spice, salt or stock as needed, so again, when you recreate the dish at home, you’ll know just what to do.

       Classes are generally held on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, with a different four-dish menu each day. But they are flexible on this, and if a guest is only available on a different day, or prefers another menu – perhaps their favourite Thai dish – then Khun Nisa and Chef Pon will oblige. Monday’s menu consists of Thai fish cakes, spicy and sour soup with prawns (tom yum goong), chicken green curry and stir-fried beef with black pepper sauce. Chicken lovers may prefer Wednesday’s menu of fried chicken with cashew nuts, chicken red curry, chicken and coconut milk soup (tom kha gai) and spicy papaya salad (som tum). Friday’s cooks make Thai favourites of phad Thai, chicken massaman curry, chicken satays and spicy glass-noodle salad.

      There’s no need to frantically take notes in order to be able to remember the many ingredients and how to prepare the dishes. At the end of the lesson, cooks are presented with a CD with recipes showing detailed instructions as well as photos, and even a reminder of what the ingredients are with pictures next to the local herbs and spices. And they also receive a certificate signed by the chef to proudly display in their kitchen when they get home.

         Chef Pon is a great teacher and explains each step as he goes along, and before you know it you’re feeling relaxed and enjoying cooking Thai food like an old pro. Although generally most Thai dishes are quick to make, the class lasts about an hour and a half as you’re doing all the prep work as well as the cooking. As the class starts at 2:00 pm, this means you’ll enjoy a late lunch in the garden under the sala, along with some chilled water and a complimentary glass of wine. There’s no rush, so you can make an afternoon of it and enjoy the solitude in this peaceful part of the garden. The best part is that classes are a mere 1,500 baht per person all inclusive – not bad considering you’re getting a four-course meal and a glass of wine with that.

         And if you’re the creative type and are interested in Thai arts and culture, a fruit and vegetable carving class is new to the list of activities on offer at Samui Buri. Here, simple fruit and vegetables such as watermelon, carrots and papaya are transformed into beautiful sculptures with a few flicks of the knife. Well, it’s a bit more complicated than that – but with the guidance of a professional carver, you’ll learn a few tricks of the trade and be able to impress guests at your next dinner party.

         So if you’re looking for a great way to spend the afternoon, and want a lasting memory and skill to take home with you, why not give Chef Pon’s cooking class or the fruit and vegetable carving class a try. They say you’re never too old to learn – or too young for that matter!

         

Rosanne Turner


 


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