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Someone who surely knows the way to this foodie’s heart gave a very thoughtful, heartfelt birthday gift this year: an in-depth cooking course at the Institute of Culinary Education (ICE).  The course was titled “Essentials of Thai Cooking.”

me at ice

Institute of Culinary Education’s “Essentials of Thai Cooking” Course

I’ve been cooking ever since I was big enough to stand on a chair next to my mom in the kitchen, so I’ve explored a decent amount of cuisines over time.  Thai cuisine is one type I’d never learned much about.  I always loved to eat Thai food, but I had absolutely no clue how to COOK Thai food, so this was the perfect course for me!

pad thai with shrimp

pad thai with shrimp

shrimp avocado rolls with peanut sauce

shrimp avocado rolls with peanut sauce

At four hours per class, the courses offered at ICE are led by one head chef and one sous chef.  They offer an in-depth, hands on experience where you’re able to look into and discuss the origin, culture, foods, ingredients, and recipes most commonly used in the type of cuisine you’ve chosen to explore.

stir fried vegetables and green curry sauce

stir fried vegetables and green curry sauce

final dish: green curry chicken

steam white fish with peanut noodles

steam white fish with peanut noodles

We began by sitting together for the first hour and having a sort of Q&A session about different origins of Thai food, which was very interesting, because I had no clue there was more than one.  The most surprising thing to learn from the head chef before cooking was that while the flavors of different Thai dishes are unique, all Thai food pretty much consists of the same 5-10 ingredients.  This seemed impossible, but once I started cooking myself, I couldn’t believe how true it was!  It’s crazy what such small differences in measurement do to the flavors of each dish!

the menu layout for each group

the menu layout for each group (i worked in group 2)

Once you’ve become familiar with the ingredients you’ll be using in the class, you’re broken up into groups, and each group is responsible for a menu.  Then, you get to work!  With a kitchen full of top notch cooking tools and utensils, professional workspace, fresh ingredients, and only two hours to cook, I swear I felt like I was on Food Network’s Iron Chef or Chopped!  It was so much fun!

kitchen heaven! best rack ever…. 😉

Once each group has completed their menu (within only two hours!), the fourth and final hour is spent with each group displaying their final products on a long buffet style table (ICE provides beautiful platters for groups to present their dishes on), bringing the workspace tables together, opening a few bottles of wine, and eating all of our completed dishes together as a class!  This way, the class comes back together as a whole, everyone gets to try every single dish (from Thai apps, to dinner, to dessert), and discuss what they liked/learned throughout the course.  We were also sent home with a booklet containing everything we learned about the origin of Thai food, all the ingredients we used, and every single recipe that was included on each menu.

setting up the buffet with our final dishes

setting up the buffet with our final dishes

white wine

white wine served with dinner

My experience at ICE was just amazing!  Now I can go buy my own essential ingredients for Thai cooking, and make Thai food when I have friends and family over!  I’m already looking to book another course this summer so I can have a new ICE experience to take home.  I learned so much!  Thank you ICE!

our kitchen space AKA a ‘classroom’ at ICE where courses take place

P.S.  Remember that talk of the cleaning fairy on my Blog Bio??  There was a dish washer in the room for the entire class, too! That had to be the cherry on top of this extra special birthday treat!

Stay adventurous! Much love 🙂

ice sign

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