Biography, Kasma Loha-unchit
Born in 1950, Kasma grew up in Thailand and learned the art of cooking from her mother. She moved to the United States in 1968 to attend college at Arizona State University in Tempe, Arizona. She moved to the Bay Area in 1972 and later received her master's degree in business from the University of California at Berkeley. After working for many years as a marketing analyst, Kasma's interest in the healing professions led her to pursue studies in Western psychology, Oriental medicine and the practices of various spiritual traditions. These traditions inspired her to return to her cultural roots, and she chose cooking and working with people as her life's work.
Kasma began teaching Thai cooking classes in 1985 as a way to earn some extra money. It soon became a full-time job. Believing food to be inseparable from culture, in teaching Thai cooking Kasma encourages the discovery of the joys and the healing nature of working with food. Although she has taught all over the Bay Area, she especially loves to teach out of her home so that she can keep classes small and intimate and get to know her students. At one time she taught all over the Bay Area but these days she prefers to teach out of her own home. A series of 4 classes or a weeklong class enables her to give a good introduction to Thai cooking and to get to know the students.
She personally organizes and leads tours to her homeland two to three times yearly. Her tours began at the encouragement of her cooking students who were enchanted by the stories she told of her homeland. The first year she literally learned on the job but she now has sixteen years of experience behind her at finding special places all over Thailand.
Kasma's first book was It Rains Fishes: Legends, Traditions and the Joys of Thai Cooking, published in 1995 by Pomegranate Artbooks. It Rains Fishes received a Julia Child Cookbook Award (now called an IACP – International Association of Culinary Professionals – award) in the international category in 1996. Her second book, Dancing Shrimp: Favorite Thai Recipes for Seafood, published by Simon & Schuster, appeared in Fall, 2000. She lives in Oakland, California with her husband and a white dove. She is an avid gardener, both outdoor landscaping and indoor gardening, especially orchids, and is also an accomplished photographer.