With over 30 years of experience and more than a dozen locations around the world; Blue Elephant restaurants are well established as a leading authority on royal Thai cuisine. Locals, expats and globe-trotting tourists all flock to their many locations to enjoy Thai cuisine at the highest level, but most fail to realize that they can also expand their knowledge and skill on the “Art of Thai Cuisine” at the Blue Elephant Cooking School available in both Bangkok and Phuket, Thailand.
The Bangkok restaurant and cooking school is located in an exquisitely charming 3-story mansion that is more than 100 years old. It exudes an old world grandeur and charm and has a distinctive British colonial feel that is seamlessly mixed with ethnic Asian artifacts. The cooking school is located on the third floor and classes are available daily. You can choose either a morning class or afternoon class. The morning class incudes a fun and informative guided trip to the local market where you will learn to carefully choose the perfect ingredients for your Thai cooking lessons. You can also choose between taking private or public courses. Public courses are approximately four hours in duration and include a four course set menu that changes daily. Please visit this link for daily menu options. Another nice option is the ability to take several classes form 1- 7 days so that you can get the full experience and learn to cook a variety of different dishes. Details and current prices can be found on their website.
Once back at the cooking school, the classes are broken into two distinct areas. Everyone gathers in the “demonstration room” and sits at “grade school” style desks and are given a folder that has the recipes of the day, notes and an apron. The “chef of the day” presents a theory class were students are introduced to different Thai fruits, vegetables, herbs and typical products. The menu changes daily and the instructor chef demonstrates each dish separately and gives you a chance to taste it before heading into the “practice room” to replicate the dish in the state of the art kitchen. Everyone gets their own stove and wok and they are assisted by the chef and additional chefs in case additional hands are needed for guidance.
On the day of my visit, the owner and highly respected Chef Nooror Somany Steppe was on hand as well as her daughter Chef Sandra Steppe who graced us with a cooking demonstration. Perhaps my favorite dish of the day was the Coconut Pudding, which I enjoyed for its simplicity and taste and for my own sentimental reasons. According to Chef Sandra, the recipe is an old family favorite passed down from her grandmother that they now willing share with the world. We also made a delightful version of “Tom Klong Plaa Kra Pong” which is a Spicy & Sour Soup w/ Sea Bass that is similar but different from the famous Tom Yum Goong. I also enjoyed getting an easy to replicate recipe for a scrumptious Pomelo Salad w/ Prawn as well as learned to make an amazingly rich yet simple Chicken Massaman Curry.
Another nice touch is that you do not eat the dishes as you make them. You can either have them packed up and taken home with you, or you can go downstairs and enjoy them as you dine amongst towering palm trees under shiny crystal chandeliers next to intricate Thai wood carvings and stone sculptures hanging on the walls. Another nice treat is to head up to the second floor to the neon “Blue Bar” and have a cocktail or after-dinner drink. The cooking school at Blue Elephant is a first class affair. You get a real taste of Thailand, recipes that are approachable and manageable, and a chance to enjoy everything the beautiful venue has to offer. There are no other cooking classes available like this, and you will be sure to take away much more than a certificate and an apron.