Best Phuket Cooking Classes Teaching Phuket Dishes
The best Phuket cooking classes range from hands-on lessons in purpose-built cooking schools with dedicated instructors to chefs giving demo-style classes in the resort restaurant. You can learn Thai standards or you can ask cooking instructors to teach Phuket specialties.
We’re pleased to see that cooking schools appear to be replacing spa treatments as one of the most popular off-beach holiday activities around Asia and the southern Thailand island is no exception and is home to some of the best Phuket cooking classes.
Whether you’re a serious cook or you just want to do something fun to give you a break from the sun, Phuket boasts some of the best Thai cooking classes we’ve done and they’re all willing to teach Phuket specialties if you’re interested in learning more about Phuket cuisine – and you ask nicely and give some advance notice.
Most offer fairly standard Thai dishes – spring rolls, green curries, mango and sticky rice – however, in our experience if you are serious, you just have to ask and they’re happy to teach Phuket specialties. Our tip: give them as much notice as possible and book a private class and they should be happy to oblige.
Many of Phuket’s newer resorts boast purpose-built cooking schools with dedicated instructors while classes at older resorts are often taught in the restaurants. The exceptions of course are two of the best Phuket cooking classes at the Paresa and Anantara.
Most cooking classes begin with either a market visit or, if the hotel isn’t close to a local market or there isn’t one on that day (small markets move around the island so may only be held locally one day a week), an introduction to produce and ingredients.
The food you cook is generally the food you’ll eat for lunch, so go easy on those chillies if you’re not familiar with Southern Thai food. All cooking classes will provide recipes and most provide a certificate and an apron and perhaps an additional gift, such as a tote bag (Spice Spoons).
The Best Phuket Cooking Classes – Our Picks, All Tried and Tested
Easily one of the best Phuket cooking classes we sampled, Paresa Resort’s hands-on half-day Thai cooking class is held in a sleek, dedicated cooking school called Recipe, located beneath the restaurants and boasting brilliant ocean views. The purpose built facility is outstanding with a good-sized kitchen with two ovens and individual, mobile, marble-topped benches. The class begins with a drive to Banzaan Market, a wonderful example of a local fresh food market, for an introduction to Thai ingredients. The quality of instruction by our teacher, Hoon, was first-rate, with Terence prepping and cooking everything alongside Hoon. Here, all the dishes were made and then we sat down to enjoy them as a meal at a communal table, where we were offered wine and beer to go with our Phuket classics – bai liang pad khai (stir-fried melinjo leaves with egg), pla kra pong pad (fish with sweet and sour sauce), and khamin, geang poo (crab meat curry). The food was absolutely delicious, the recipes easy to follow, and Hoon’s plating was artful and contemporary (no carved fruit on the side). The apron, which you get to take home, was also one of the smartest. Paresa also offers daily classes in Japanese cuisine (two hours, covering fish filleting, sashimi cutting, rice preparation, sushi rolling, and tempura making with an optional sake tasting afterwards), Italian pasta-making (two hours on the basics of dough making, tagliatelle cutting, ravioli folding, risotto boiling), and chocolate-making (full day master class with three classes to choose from).
Spice Spoons, Anantara Phuket Layan
Another of the best Phuket cooking classes, Spice Spoons at the Anantara Phuket Layan is ran by legendary Thai cooking instructor Chef Pitak Srichan, who we met a decade ago when Terence did a Thai cooking class at the Four Seasons Chiang Mai, when Pitak ran the school there. As you’d expect, the instruction is of a very high standard here, too, and is very hands-on, with guests doing everything the chef does. In Phuket, the half-day experience begins with a trip to the lively Banzaan Fresh Market, also called Thepkrasattri Market, to buy fresh seafood, vegetables, herbs and spices, as much as to learn about Thai ingredients and a thorough introduction by Chef Pitak to different vegetables, herbs and spices. The class was held in the resort’s beautiful restaurant, Dee Plee (southern Thai for ‘chili’), pictured, above, which overlooks the beach and a small island. While Dee Plee’s menu features traditional Phuket dishes, such as khanom jeen Phuket (fermented rice noodles with curry), nam prik goong siap (a spicy prawn dip with green chili peppers, garlic, shrimp paste, fish sauce, lime juice, palm sugar) and khanom bia Phuket spring rolls, the cooking class menu offers Thai standards. Terence made krathong thong (‘golden flowers’; crispy cups holding prawns with a mix of vegetables), tom yum gai (spicy chicken soup with lemongrass, galangal and kaffir lime), gaeng kiew wan goong (Thai green curry with shrimps), and khao niew mamuang (mango with sweet sticky rice in coconut cream). Not only do you get to take home an apron here and eco-friendly tote bag, but the Spice Spoons recipe card pack was the most professional of all the schools. Classes in fruit and vegetable carving are also offered.
Thai Culinary Cooking Class, Trisara
The excellent Thai Culinary Cooking Class at Trisara was taught in the resort’s restaurant by one of the hotel’s Phuket-born chefs – because as we discovered during our month on Phuket, most hotel staff aren’t from Phuket but are in fact from the poorer Northeastern Isaan region. The class was hands-on, with Terence prepping everything under the direction of the chef. The quality of instruction was in-depth and the recipe booklet by far the most thorough, with ten pages of ingredients with photos and detailed descriptions – super handy for newcomers to Thai cuisine who want to seek out products when they get home. While Trisara can teach participants Thai standards if they wish, once again we put them to the test and requested Phuket specialties, learning how to cook kra dook moo bai cha muang (sour broth with pork spare ribs and garcinia leaves), pad pak meang (sautéed local meang leaves with garlic and dried shrimp), mee sapam goong (Phuket yellow noodles with kale and prawns in soy sauce), and por pia sod (fresh vegetable and pork rolls with a sweet tamarind chilli sauce). It was a fun and while we ate as the dishes were cooked, guests can choose to eat at the end of the class if they wish.
The Boathouse Thai Cooking Class
There’s no purpose built cooking school at The Boathouse either. Cooking classes are taught in the light-filled, ocean-side Boathouse Wine & Grill restaurant on a long table set up for the chef with chairs for participants to watch. A sous-chef is on hand to assist and, like Trisara and The Surin’s cooking classes, guests can get as hands-on (or not) as they like. In response to our request for Phuket specialties, the chef created a programme of a whopping six dishes – even the very best Phuket cooking classes (Paresa, Spice Spoons) had taught 3-4 dishes, which is fairly standard at all cooking schools. Here we learnt to make tao hoo tord (deep fried yellow tofu with bean sprouts), tom som pla (sweet and sour fish soup with tamarind sauce), gang som goong (spicy sour curry with prawns), pad mee sapam (those Phuket-style stir-fried yellow noodles and seafood again), moo hong (braised caramelised pork belly), and khanom bua loi (sweet rice flour dumplings in coconut cream). The chef was incredibly well organised, though, beginning with moo hong, which takes the longest time to cook to get to melt-in-your-mouth texture, then making the super-fast deep-fried tofu, which we got to snack on, an easy soup, the curry, noodles, and dessert. Whilst it was a lot of food it was a good demonstration of how simple some Thai dishes can be to cook and how important planning is in the kitchen. The Boathouse also provides participants with a lovely apron and recipes. Classes run from 10am-2pm and the dishes serve as lunch.
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The Andara does things a bit differently. The chef can teach cooking classes at Silk, the resort’s traditional Thai restaurant, but the thing that’s special about this property is the enormous apartments and villas with fully equipped kitchens and dining rooms, and the opportunity to have an in-villa cook – or two, in our case. While it wasn’t a formal lesson, two lovely local ladies came to cook for us and we got to watch and ask questions. They made goong sarong (deep-fried tiger prawns wrapped in vermicelli) and a wonderful version of pad mee sapam (Phuket’s famous stir-fried yellow noodles and seafood). Our tip: ask them to go off-menu and make the dishes they eat at home.
There’s no dedicated cooking school at The Surin either, however, the chef runs an excellent demonstration-only cooking class in the superb Lomtalay restaurant and is happy to teach Phuket specialties on request. The chef takes participants on a market tour early in the morning and then they have a break before re-grouping late morning for the cooking class followed by lunch.
Looking for Phuket accommodation? See our Where to Stay in Phuket guide for our favourite spots around the island and in Phuket Town.
Have you had any cooking lessons on the southern Thai island? If so, what do you think are the best Phuket cooking classes? We’d love to get your feedback and suggestions for the best Phuket cooking classes we should try on our next trip.