Friday, March 12, 2010

Vegetarian Thai Cooking Class - Kiama, Australia

The highlight of this week was attending Adam Guthrie from I Feel Good's Thai Vegetarian Cooking class.

This is my fourth class with Adam and they never cease to inspire and enlighten when it comes to healthy and delicious vegetarian cooking.

Adam and his wife Ruth are the founders of I Feel Good.

"We are all about providing you with the tools and resources necessary to help you on your journey to creating and maintaining a healthier, happier, more conscious and meaningful life."

The best way to describe Adam's hands-on cooking class is 'a feast for all senses'. Adam, a professional chef, guides you through an evening of chopping, stirring and mixing, peppered with demonstrations and practical hints complimented by the best ingredient of all - laughter.

There is an emphasis on using the freshest ingredients and cooking techniques that ensure the finished product retains as many vitamins and minerals as possible.

Adam's knowledge of where to source the best ingredients is an added bonus. One that I'll definitely try is Doorstep Organics - a company that delivers throughout Sydney, as far north as the Central Coast and right down to Berry. Whilst you often pay more for organic produce, the old adage 'you get what you pay for' rings true. How many times do you buy vegetables from one of the larger supermarket chains only to find they have deteriorated within a couple of days? Do we always know where produce comes from, when it was harvested, what chemicals were used to aid growth? Far better to get produce fresh from the market that has been certified organic.

Tonight's class was all about Thai. Last year Adam travelled to Thailand where he did a one-on-one cooking class with Thai vegan chef and restauranteur, May Kaidee. If you've cooked Thai before, you'll know that shrimp paste and fish sauce feature heavily in most recipes. Adam brings back from Thailand the secret to getting that authentic Thai taste without using animal products.

Throughout the night Adam shared his philosophy on cooking. He believes that if you prepare your food with love, it tastes so much better! I don't think this is a myth. It makes sense that if you're passionate about what you cook, if you care about how your food looks, how it tastes, how it smells, it's texture and sometimes even how it sounds, then the end result will be better than if you quickly prepare something without much thought.

Below Adam demonstrates how to cook with love!

I know that after a long day at work it's often difficult to be passionate about cooking. It becomes just another chore. The key to cooking with love, even after the busiest day, is to follow a recipe that's quick and simple. Adam's Thai recipes are just that - most of the preparation is in the cutting - the cooking part is fast - the end result is delicious.

Here one of the guest cooks prepares fresh Thai chilli paste for the curries.

Tonight's menu:

Red or Green Thai Curry (we got to choose)

Massaman Curry

Pad Thai

Green Papaya Salad

Black Sticky Rice with Coconut Milk

Lemongrass tea

The art of cutting chopping slicing - Adam guides a guest cook through different techniques - and there's definitely an art to it. We learnt about the anatomy of a good knife - what to look for and why. Using a knife correctly is not as easy as it looks.

Busy guest cooks preparing food 'with love'.

Preparing tofu - a light dusting of rice flour gives tofu that crunchy outer coating when fried.

Kiama's new Pavillion, located on the headland surrounded by Norfolk Pines and views of the ocean, is the perfect venue for Adam's cooking classes. The large commercial kitchen easily accommodates 10 guest cooks with room to spare.

Thai red curry - medley of vegetables flavoured with Thai Red Chilli paste, kaffir lime leaves, galangal, lemongrass and thai basil.

There was much banter and laughter throughout the evening. Some guest cooks arrived by themselves, some with their partners and others with friends. By the end of the evening as we sat down to a sumptuous feast, strangers had become friends with a love of cooking being the common bond. There was much discussion about what we'd learned, techniques, what we enjoyed...

Ruth, Adam's wife, had prepared a beautiful, candle-lit table and with the backdrop of the ocean and a gentle breeze blowing through the balcony doors, we laughed, discussed and ate our way through the rest of the evening. Life is good!

Shortly Adam will depart for a 2-week visit to India where undoubtedly he'll learn new culinary techniques and recipes, returning home to share his knowledge with us.

In 2010 Adam will be holding Indian, Moroccan, Mexican, Vegetarian Pies, Japanese, Lebanese, Vietnamese, BBQ and Christmas cooking classes.

For more information about classes and recipes visit I Feel Good
Happy cooking!

Ann McLeod

For more food photography by Ann McLeod visit:

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