How To 'Master' Thai Cuisine In Two Days

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Weekend Master-Class gives all the tips on top Thai cuisine

The inaugural Isan Food Festival is being held in Khon Kaen, Thailand for 10 days, and from March 7-9 the Sofitel Raja Orchid is offering a culinary master-class weekend from just (12,150THB) or $AUD420 -- including taxes and service charges, two nights accommodation and the weekend Master Class for two people. This also includes coffee breaks, lunch for two people and breakfast each day.

A special gourmand dinner is organised for the 8th March at the hotel's magnificent Vietnamese Restaurant and is from (1400THB) or $AUD48 for two inclusive.

Whilst eating deep fried insects may not be everyone's cup of tea, there's something to suit every palate, and the Sofitel Raja Orchid Hotel offers a luxurious five star base, from which to enjoy the Master Class and all the sounds, colours and tastes northern Thailand has to offer.

Workshops revolving around the Festival include one aptly named -- 'Improbably Edible Cuisine' which features the Isan custom of eating fried locust and lizard, and stir fried silk worm -- not to mention the Isan/Lao specialty of ant egg soup!

The Isan Food Festival will also feature visiting chefs, guest lecturers, and the world's largest woven sticky rice basket, and celebrates Northeast Thailand's fabled cooking. Khon Kaen will be pulsing with activities planned from early in the morning til late at night for the ten days of the Festival.

But there's more to the festival -- there's workshops galore featuring top gastronomic names conducting the activities. These include:

  • Vatch Bhumitchitr, London restaurateur and author of six best-selling Thai cookbooks in English;
  • Somsak Wongdechanand, editor-in-chief- of Thailand's leading food magazine 'Gourmet & Cuisine' heads a workshop on Thai curries;
  • Philip Cornwel Smith, author of the everyday culture book 'Very Thai' will speak on contemporary Isan trends in Bangkok;
  • Morrison Polkinghorne, Australian based textile expert;
  • Robert Carmack Australian based author of Thai and Vietnamese cookbooks and Fondue (Periplus), (one co-written by Didier Corlu of Sofitel Hanoi fame)
  • Pramol Pimsen local Isan specialist and author;
  • Dr. Chop Deesuankoke retired Khon Kaen university lecturer.

Plus there are regional food producers from sausage makers to fish sauce brewers, are on hand to give an introduction to their foodstuffs.

Globetrotting Gourmet is offering a 10-night deluxe Thailand packages including the Isan Festival 2 day masterclass; a stay at the luxury beach resort of Hua Hin; Bangkok -- Asia's shopping powerhouse, Thailand's dessert capital of Phetchaburi; and holy pilgrimage cities Nakhon Pathom and Nakhon Chaisi. You'll stay at five-star Sofitel hotels throughout with guaranteed upgrades, most meals, cooking classes, market tours.

For those who still want more, a special day tour of Isan south of Khon Kaen is available on Monday 10 March.

To book or for more information please call (02) 9550 5510
or visit or

For a weekend-only package rates for the Thai Cuisine Master Class Weekend plus hotel - please visit

Bordered by Laos to the East and Cambodia to its south, Thailand's remote northeast Isan region is renowned for some of the kingdom's tastiest cooking. Yet it's a style less familiar to foreigners. Unlike the coconut cream curries of tropical and coastal districts, dishes here largely rely on local ingredients from an arid region, such as delicious gai yang grilled chicken, som tom green papaya salad, fiery jaeow chilli jams, and sticky or glutinous rice. Not only that, the area hosts the finest examples of ancient Khmer temples to be seen outside of Cambodia, and the country's most intricate silk weaving.

Cultural Crossroads
Isan is alive with the flavours of neighbouring Laos, Cambodia, and Vietnam, and the region's cuisine is some of the best on offer in the Thai kingdom. Late night Bangkok revellers have long clamoured to Isan hawker stalls for snacks in their capital city, and several upmarket Lao and Isan restaurants now cater to the city's affluent, as well.

About Khon Kaen
Isan's commercial capital city of Khon Kaen lies some 450 km from Bangkok, and today is a major regional development centre and university city of 200,000. The city is served by three flights daily from Don Mueang (DMK) airport in Bangkok, plus regular bus service and several trains daily. Flights take less than an hour, road and rail from 6 to 8 hours.

About Accor
Accor, the European leader and a major global group in hotels, the global leader in services to corporate clients and public institutions, operates in nearly 100 countries with 170,000 employees. It offers to its clients over 40 years of expertise in its two core businesses:

  • Hotels, with the Sofitel, Pullman, Novotel, Mercure, Suitehotel, Ibis, all seasons, Etap Hotel, Formule 1 and Motel 6 brands, representing more than 4,000 hotels and nearly 500,000 rooms in 90 countries, as well as strategically related activities, such as Lenôtre.
  • Services, with 30 million people in 40 countries benefiting from Accor Services products in human resources, marketing services and expense management.

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Cynthia Dammerer
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