Bangkok's famed Oriental Hotel offers a deluxe five-day cooking course year-round in a Thai-style house across the river from the hotel. After breakfast, students cross via riverboat, then have tea or coffee and a lecture by Sarnsern Gajaseni, who has been with the school since it opened in 1987. Gajaseni then demonstrates the day's dishes, explaining unfamiliar Thai ingredients and inviting students to watch the food fry and simmer in handcrafted brass woks in the kitchen next door. Although the sessions emphasize demonstration, students get to try their hands at the intricate Thai art of fruit and vegetable carving. Limited to 20 students, classes cover different phases of Thai cooking each day, starting with hors d'oeuvres and salads on Monday and concluding with desserts on Friday.
For the Record
Los Angeles Times Sunday January 14, 1996 Home Edition Travel Part L Page 4 Travel Desk 2 inches; 44 words Type of Material: Correction
Cooking schools--Due to an editing error, two photos were uncredited or misidentified in "Booked to Cook" (Jan. 7, 1996). A photograph of La Louviere in Bordeaux was taken by Fred Seidman. An inside photograph of a woman making bread was taken by Owen Morse, and was of a cooking demonstration in Morocco, not Mexico.
Contact: Oriental Hotel, 48 Oriental Ave., Bangkok, Thailand 10500; tel. 011-66-2-236-0400. Cost: about $437 for the five-day course; a single day's class is about $100. A package that includes the classes, five nights accommodations, airport transfers and some meals is available at $2,070 per person.
A traditional Thai-style teak house that operates as a bed and breakfast, the Thai House offers cooking classes ranging from one to four days. Students learn dishes such as larb, beef panang and green curry from Pip, wife of Paiboone Fargrajang, who operates a tour agency in Bangkok and built the house. The emphasis is on traditional, home-style cooking, even to pounding out curry pastes in stone mortars. Located on a klong (canal) in a country-like setting, the Thai House seems miles away from Bangkok's frenetic streets, but it's only a 45-minute ride from the heart of town via hotel van.
Contact: Reserve through Asian Overland Adventures, 22 Pra-Athit Road, Bangkok, Thailand 10200; tel. 011-662-280-0740, fax 011-662-280-0741. The four-day cooking program costs $500, which includes room and board; a one-day class is $75.
Martin Yan's Tour
Martin Yan, star of the PBS series "Yan Can Cook," and author of numerous Chinese cookbooks, will lead a culinary tour of Hong Kong March 6-15 sponsored by his home station, San Francisco's KQED. The tour is large--as many as 60 people may participate--and will include cooking classes, a visit to a street market, a dim sum breakfast, high tea at Repulse Bay and a 10-course banquet of dishes from the imperial dynasties. Participants will travel to Lantau Island for a vegetarian lunch, and to Macao for a taste of Portuguese cuisine and a Sichuan banquet. Sightseeing and shopping tours are also planned.
Contact: Orient USA Tours, 600 Airport Blvd, Suite 333, Burlingame, CA 94010; tel. (800) 292-1238, fax (415) 340-7184. Cost: $2,899 per person, including air fare from San Francisco.
Hong Kong at Home
A series of classes on home-style Chinese cooking will give participants a chance to cook as well as watch leading Hong Kong food personalities prepare their specialties. The curriculum includes stir-fried beef fillet with satay sauce Chiu-Chow style, steamed chicken with Yunnan ham, pan-fried eggplant sandwiches stuffed with assorted mushrooms and deep-fried bean curd pancake. Classes, limited to 24, will take place on selected days in March at Town Gas Cooking Centre.
Contact: Agnes Chan, tel. 011-852-2807-6104, fax 011-852-2807-6586. The Town Gas Cooking Centre is located in the basement of Leighton Centre, 77 Leighton Road, Causeway Bay. Cost: $45 per class. Reservations must be made two days in advance.
Culinary Splendors of India
Julie Sahni, a noted writer on Indian cuisine who also runs a cooking school in New York, leads a food tour that explores India's culinary heritage. Visiting western, southern and northern India Oct. 11-27, participants might dine on Parsi seafood in Bombay; eat dosas and idli in Madurai; try appe in Cochin; sample vindaloo and sarpotel in Goa; picnic on vegetarian food at Fatehpur Sikri, the fort-city built by Emperor Akbar, or feast on royal Rajput dishes in Jaipur. The trip includes stops at spice and tea plantations, markets and bazaars, villages, farm kitchens, palaces and temples.
Contact: Julie Sahni's School of Indian Cooking, 101 Clark St., No. 13A, Brooklyn Heights, NY 11201; tel./fax (718) 625-3958. Cost: $4,975 per person for the 17-day tour, not including air fare; single supplement is $1,175.
The Raffles Culinary Academy