|May, the owner and teacher at May's Cooking School|
Yes indeed, it is a new season and yet more cookery schools are opening up on Koh Lanta. This year May, from May's Kitchen has built and opened one near her home in the hills of the island. So why choose this one?
1. Well it could be because May has been a chef on this island for as long as I can remember and runs the hugely successful May's Kitchen.
2. It could be because she speaks great English.
3. You have tried her food and really want to eat it at home!
4. Or it could be due to the fact that learning from May is like learning from your mama!
Indeed whilst I watched May teach her first class this year, she regaled the story how she learnt to cook from her grandma and how her grandmother taught her to cook with 'her heart!' And whilst she was teaching, her two beautiful daughters both walked by us to run May's Kitchen as their mama taught them!'
|Only fresh ingredients|
May is quite a lady, softly spoken, very knowledgeable and sometimes surprisingly funny, which probably helps when your partner is Irish! She instills calm wherever she is and makes cooking look simple and most of all enjoyable.
On this day, May had two students, Sarah (German) and Thomas (French), both of whom live in Salzberg in Austria. May has built her beautiful, rustic outside teaching area with only space for 4 students, because she wants to 'keep the classes small and personal,' she tells me. Shaded by the trees, which was fortunate because the sun was blazing, the area is cool, calm and serene (much like May).
|Thomas & May comparing Som Tams|
May takes her time with her students, she cooks 4 meals, but individually, eating as we finished each course. She explains all the different ingredients she uses, why she uses them and where she sources them from. For May, freshness and environmentally friendly produce is a must, so she sources most products from the island. With every ingredient, she explains what it is, why it is good for you and, if you cannot source that ingredient at home, what you can replace it with.
|Sarah is very proud of her accomplishments!|
For the first course today, she shows Sarah and Thomas how to make a Som Tam (Papaya Salad), she explains how a Thai would traditionally make it and how this is often changed to please Western taste buds. This is where she encourages her students to taste constantly and adapt the mix to their taste.
After completing the dish, May, Thomas and Sarah, sit down together in a Sala to eat together. There is no rush here, and plenty of soft drinks to rejuvenate you.
|May teaches us about baby Bananas!|
The second course is Pad Thai and May demonstrates how to make the Pad Thai sauce before they make the dish together. At this point May is able to adjust the meal according to the students dietary requirements. This time May makes the Pad Thai for me with both chicken and prawns and it is delicious. Thomas comments on how delicious the prawns are and May informs us that that is because they are from the sea (I did mishear this and thought she said tree!) and were freshly caught by local fishermen.
|The school is only designed for small intimate classes.|
At this point we are all full but after a short interval May starts with the third course, Green Curry, she says that if Sarah and Thomas are too full, they can take this meal home with them and eat later. But once they start cooking, the smells are so good, they quickly get their appetite back!
|May, Thomas & Sarah enjoy a Green Curry together|
Finally, May makes mango and sticky rice and despite finishing all the food they have had already, Thomas and Sarah make space for one last dish! Although I think they may not have eaten for the rest of the day.
May only offers one class per day, to small groups only. The class is not rushed, so whilst you make 4 dishes, there is plenty of time between courses for you to regain your appetite and if you don't, May will send you home with a take away. If you would like to book this course, ask at May's Kitchen or ask me to organise for you.