Leaving Home to Appreciate Home: Traditional Thai in Phuket by Way of America

Sometimes you need to leave your home to learn how to truly appreciate the culinary traditions you grew up on. This was certainly true for Tony, the chef and teacher at Thai Cooking Class Phuket

After growing up in Ubon Ratchatani, in the northeastern Thai province of Isan, Tony traveled to the United States to see the world. He ultimately ended up working at a Thai restaurant in Ohio where he was trained by the owner’s wife on all the recipes and techniques of the dishes he grew up with.

Tony then worked as a chef in a Japanese restaurant in Chicago. Here, he learned the importance of presentation and the styling of dishes which plays such a large role in Japanese cuisine. Tony continues to use these lessons in his Thai dishes, focusing on how the dish looks just a much as how it tastes.

Now in Phuket, Tony first began renting out rooms to travelers visiting the tropical island. He wanted to combine his love of Thai food and cooking with his desire to show his visitors what Thailand is. This led to him beginning to offer cooking classes in a kitchen down the street that he rents out from a local church.

While taking his class, Tony shows how to properly cut each vegetable and prepare each flavor base. Cooking techniques are clearly demonstrated before being attempted by his guests. After the dish is prepared, Tony will walk everyone through the presentation of the dish. Something as simple as piling the vegetables in the middle of the bowl, placing the meat on top, then slowly pouring the broth down the edge of the bowl, makes a huge difference on the presentation of something as basic as soup.

After two years in Phuket, Tony will sometimes miss the bitter flavors and multiple variations of Som Tum and Larb from his Isan home. He hopes to soon begin introducing these dishes into his classes to share what home tastes like to him.

If you’re heading to Phuket soon, click below to book one of Tony’s cooking classes. He’ll make sure you try some Thai snacks and fruits at the market before you all settle down to cook these delicious and beautiful dishes.

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