This evening I took a class in Thai Street Foods at the New School of Cooking in Culver City. The instructor was Jet Tila, whose family owns the Royal Thai restaurants in Orange County and the Bangkok Market. Jet was very charismatic and personable and taught to a level even the most inexperienced cook could understand. None of us had any experience cooking Asian food although one woman had completed the professional series at the school.
First he talked a little about Thai ingredients and flavors and then he demonstrated making a papaya salad. Then he handed out recipes and we broke into pairs to make pork satay, barbecued marinated chicken, mussels steamed with lemongrass, shrimp cakes, morning glory with garlic, shrimp rolls with bean curd sheets and sticky rice and mango. Although we only had the experience of cooking one dish all the way through, we were able to wander around and observe the other teams.
I won't say all our dishes tasted like they were made by master Thai chefs, although some were excellent, but it was a great learning experience. Jet taught us lots of little tricks and showed many skills in addition to just making the dishes. When we quizzed him about his favorite Thai restaurants his answers seemed right on, and several students were disappointed to discover Saladang Song and Chan Dara were not the ultimate heights of Thai cuisine. I would highly recommend classes with Jet for cooks of any ability level. The kitchen set-up, ingredients and helpers were all first rate. The three hour class was $75, and he's doing a Chinese class June 5.