I managed just 1 cooking class in Bangkok during my 3 1/2 day stay early this month, as I didn't anticipate Thailand celebrating such a long New Year's holiday. But you can be sure that on my next visit to Bangkok, I shall cram my mornings full of cooking classes!
Thank you to the person who suggested Baipai. The concierge at the Sheraton also recommended the school, but not wanting to miss out on anything, I phoned the Oriental to compare offerings. Although the cost of the Baipai was about $35, compared to the Oriental's $120, per person, it was the recipes offered by the two cooking schools which made me decide in favor of the Baipai. The Oriental's offerings that Wednesday were decidedly unappealing: Pandan Fried Chicken, a sauteed pork dish, and some dessert involving boiled bananas, I think. There was one other dish I didn't find worth remembering. (To be fair, the Oriental seems to have altered the menus somewhat, and the new Friday and Saturday classes seen quite interesting.)
The Baipai, on the other hand, had Tod Man Pla (curried fishcakes, which I love), Tom Kah Gai (chicken in coconut milk soup), Pad Thai, and Tab Tim Grobb (waterchestnuts in coconut milk). It was an easy choice for me.
And an excellent deal, I must add. Baipai sent its airconditioned vans to collect the students (12 of us that day) from various hotels. The school itself was in a charming, remodelled Thai house with virtually no walls--airy, and very well set-up for classes. Each recipe started with an explanation of ingredients, then a cooking demonstration by the instructors (very pleasant young women who speak good English), and a tasting of the result. We then made our own attempt at preparing the dish at our individual cooking stations. (Most ingredients had been pre-measured, giving us an individual mise-en-place. One just had to combine and cook.) After cooking each dish, we sat down at table to enjoy the result. I was pleasantly surprised at how well each recipe turned out--everything was restaurant (in the U.S.)-caliber or better.
All told, a cooking class like the ones at Baipai are probably the most enjoyable way for a chowhound to spend a morning in Bangkok. After all, it's a great way to get the feel of cooking Thai food, and an excellent excuse to eat more Thai food in between meals.