Testimonials of Kasma's Thai Cooking Class Students
ONCE YOU'VE helped make and eaten the dishes in her first beginner's class – usually a green curry, a masaman curry, stir-fried hot and sour vegetables, and bananas in coconut milk – you'll be tempted to beg Kasma Loha-Unchit, of Kasma's Cooking Classes, to allow you to come to her house once a week for the rest of your life. There just isn't a Thai restaurant in the Bay Area that serves food of such authenticity, complexity, and balance. The author of Julia Child [IACP] Award-winning It Rains Fishes, Kasma teaches beginning, intermediate, and advanced Thai cooking classes in her Oakland home, gently ushering you from prep chores toward full responsibility for such dishes as spicy mussel salad, Panaeng beef curry, mee krob, and green papaya salad. She tutors you in shopping (with field trips), techniques, philosophy, and, above all, tasting.
Saveur Magazine – The 2010 Top 100 List
Kasma was chosen for the Saveur 2010 Top 100 list after a submission by one of her students, Donna Yee. It was published in Saveur #126. The post mentions that Kasma stresses how to make authentic Thai food and that she gives her students the knowledge to cook and eat like a Thai. Your can read the listing on their website.
Here's the rest of the 2010 Saveur 100 List (Kasma's at #81).
Diablo Magazine Article
She teaches as a guest chef at culinary institutions around the Bay Area, but I recommend learning from her in her own home. Students jockey for space at earth-toned tile countertops or work elbow to elbow around a folding table covered with a vinyl tablecloth, all of which makes the class feel like a laid-back dinner party at a graduate student's flat.
Student Series Testimonials
I have taken a bunch of cooking classes in the past (culinary institute, JCC classes) and, Kasma's class is by far the best cooking class for a variety of reasons. Firstly, Kasma is a warm and, wonderful story teller. She teaches you about food, Thai culture, health and many other things. You get a blend of historical, nutrition, and anecdotal information along with immense knowledge of food, and cooking combined with lots of hands on learning.
But, the best part (besides Kasma) is the food! You will never eat as well in your life (unless you go to Thailand on one of Kasma's trips), and learn to make such a variety of Delicious items. You learn to make so many dishes and, all of them are delicious. You eat ALL day long. Just when you think you've reached your limit there is another dish to sample.
– Louisa Philipp, San Francisco. CA.
I just thought I would drop you a note to tell you that I have moved to Thailand after retiring. I am cooking Thai food here for some Thai friends and they are amazed at the skills I learned from you. One friend accused me of buying at a restaurant when I made neung ghung.
– Richard, Advanced student, Pattaya, Thailand (formerly Vallejo, CA)
Kasma: Thanks so much for all the classes over the years. All the great recipes, and more importantly the love of cooking Thai, have greatly enhanced my life. I had a Thai dinner for friends last weekend (as I do every few months), and everyone agreed it was the best Thai food they'd ever had, lots of companionable eating, talking and appreciating the food. All thanks to your great teaching skills (and recipes)!
– Diane, Advanced student, Berkeley, CA
Thanks so much for a such wonderful experience! It's obvious that offering meticulously organized cooking classes in your home is not a just business for you, it's a personal mission. Besides providing amazing food and great company, you teach people to think carefully about the food that they put into their mouths. You also provide special insights into the beautiful, peaceful Thai culture. Your class fees are very reasonable for the amount of thought and preparation that goes into each class. It's obvious that you are driven from the heart; so rare to find in the United States.
– Peggy, Bay Area Intermediate Student
Just want to say thank you for your wonderful classes in Thai cooking. You have given me the confidence in cooking. Sure I have seen other Thai people cook but I always shy away. Now I am more interested and ask them what they are doing, what they use, etc. Your food is the best. You don't have to go to Thai restaurants to eat, you have the best Thai food in your kitchen!
– Peter Ganthavorn, a Thai residing in San Francisco, CA
– Ed Adams, Berkeley
By the way, my wife told me that she really loved Kasma's class. And I can confirm that she really did learn some wonderful skills – she has already made about six of the dishes she learned in the class (entrees and desserts) and every one was fantastic! I think this is the best present I ever gave her since I get to enjoy it, too.
– Steve, in Albany, who gave his wife the beginning Series as a present.
I take cooking classes regularly, but yours are far and away the best I've ever had, also the most fun and warm-spirited, and have certainly had the biggest effect on the food I serve at home – friends are now disappointed if I invite them for dinner and I'm not cooking Thai! And I ordered haw mok in a Thai restaurant a few weeks ago – one that often wins the Best of the Bay award – and they couldn't hold a candle to the haw mok we learned in your class. I find I'm completely spoiled for Thai restaurants now, but since I can cook so well at home, I don't mind at all!
– Cyd Harrel, San Francisco
Kasma Loha-unchit Clark's classes at Kasma's Cooking School are intimate and joyful. She not only provides instructions on how to prepare rich, complex, varied, and unfathomably exotic Thai dishes, but enables her students to understand the dynamics of the Thai palate. She trains her students to adjust the various (and often strange)flavors of Thai cuisine to emphasize hidden characteristics in a dish, and gives them guidelines in which to explore their own creativity. One of the most intimidating aspects of Thai cuisine is the often unusual and unfamiliar array of ingredients one must utilize. Kasma's classes include a field trip t."o Oakland's Chinatown to give her students the confidence to buy ingredients with foreign language labels and to demonstrate such important distinctions as the difference between holy and cinnamon basil. I went from barely being able to heat up a pot of chili to being able to glide gracefully from a cold mussel salad to a red curry duck. If Kasma's classes are not the best of the East Bay, I don't know what is!
– Magdalene L. Crowley, Berkeley, CA, in East Bay Bests: 1993 of the Express
The intermediate cooking series was nothing less than enchanted for me: incredibly tasty and complex dishes and a truly delightful group of people with the bonus of a generous and gifted teacher. Kasma, I've told all sorts of people about how much I've enjoyed your classes. Thank you for every ounce of energy and information you've given us.
– Linda Carucci, owner/operator of Linda Carucci's Kitchen cooking school, culinary consultant, and former dean of the California Culinary Academy.
>TI have been taking Thai cooking classes for several years from Kasma and believe that she should be declared a living treasure, both for the quality of her classes and for the tastiness of the Thai food which she teaches me to cook. Her classes are joyous, social occasions providing intelligent instruction into the secrets of Thai cooking and the methods for preparing Thai food using the ingredients available in local markets It is the absolute best Thai food I've ever eaten and Kasma is a delightful, warm individual who puts her heart and soul into her classes. My own feeling is that if I was stranded on a deserted island and given one wish, it would be that Kasma could be flown in to prepare meals.
– Mark Torresan, formerly of A Taste of Paradise Catering.
Student Week-long Testimonials
Reflecting on the week, it was a total immersion in Thai ingredients, food and culture. Short of spending time in Thailand cooking with your "Thai Mum", I don't think you could find a better way to learn Thai cooking!
– Just Foodies blog entry, Thai Cooking Class with Kasma
Thank you for an amazing class. The week was a sensory delight -- not only were our stomachs nourished but also our minds and spirits. I enjoyed the discussions about food misinformation and the politics of eating. I really liked how the classes were structured. Your introduction to each recipe provided us with a lot of in depth information on the cultural and regional cuisines, the balance of flavors, and how food should be bought, stored, and handled for the best possible results. I appreciated your emphasis on intuition and the full use of all our senses while cooking.
It was a fabulous week of FEASTING + CELEBRATION of wonderfully prepared food and why and how food should taste this good! You have created a very nice balance of a professionally run enterprise that is at the same time warm and "homey" in the best sense. Kasma, when I took your class 20+ years ago I thought you were an extraordinary person and it's wonderful to see you blossom and walk so comfortably in your journey. You have created an amazing opportunity for your students to share in your passions. Thank you!
– A 2007 student from Sebastapol, CA
Just when I thought I knew much of what there was to know about Thai food and cooking, along comes Kasma Loha-unchit of Kasma's Kitchen, The Art of Thai Cooking, in Oakland, CA. In her week-long Thai cooking intensives, not only does she familiarize you with ingredients, cooking techniques, traditional utensils and the seven flavors of Thai cooking, she shares a wealth of information regarding sustainable food, farming and healthy eating. Kasma is, without a doubt, a master teacher in the Thai kitchen!
– A 2007 student from Santa Fe, NM
Thank you for a truly wonderful experience. I'm looking forward to next year. It's hard to describe it all. I will, however, say this... there are three women who have played a significant role in shaping my culinary experience - my mother, my grandmother and Kasma.
– Jim Carnevale, Placitas, New Mexico.
I made Massaman chicken curry, long green beans, sticky rice, chicken coconut milk soup and coconut pancakes last night! Andy was speechless! He kept on saying, "I can't believe we're having such incredible food at HOME... how can you cook better meals than restaurant chefs?!!?" Ah yes.... I owe it all to our thai cooking queen, Kasma!
– Jean Kim, San Francisco, CA.
Thank you very much for the incredible experience! The Beginning Intensive cooking class was truly educational and a tremendous amount of fun. Learning to harmonize the flavors - enhancing and balancing - was amazing. Considering that I have lived in southern and northern California, visited Thailand on numerous occasions, and am Thai, I am proud to say that your recipes are some of the best Thai food that I have tasted. I still have dreams of the dishes that were made in class! My only regret is that I will not be able to attend the Advanced Intensive cooking class this year. A great experience indeed. Khop khun khrup!
– Don Chennavasin, Austin, TX
I've taken a lot of cooking courses – from the Beijing Culinary Academy to the Cordon Bleu in London – but nothing comes close to the learning experience of Kasma's classes. I learned more in one short week of cooking in her kitchen than I learned in all those classes combined. She is a dear, dear lady and her food is among the best food I have ever had in my life! I can't wait to return to her kitchen next year for Thai Intensive II and to travel and taste my way around Thailand with her.
– Joanne Skowronski, Carnelian Bay, CA
We want to thank you for a wonderful week! We knew the food would be outstanding, but we had not factored in how much your personality and expertise would add to the entire experience. Michael's delightful humor also increased our enjoyment. It was a divine class; we shall cherish its memory.
– Louise Morrison & Terry Forsyth, Danville, CA
The only problem with having taken your weeklong class is that NONE of the food I order out tastes as good as those delicious things we made! I had duck soup noodles at a restaurant the other night and they didn't even come CLOSE to ours.
So, thank you for great techniques, great tastes, and great times. I really did have so much fun, and the memories of that great food will last a LONG time.
– Linda Smith, Author of Smith & Hawken's Garden Structures, Pacific Grove, CA
I, too, had a great time in the class. It fulfilled all of my expectations, and then some. I told a foodie friend of mine that it's been a long time since I've had a "wow" experience in cooking, but that's what I got from your class. I got to experience the thrill of having a culinary mystery revealed to me and to feel the power being able to recreate a dish through an understanding of the ingredients and the techniques. It was fantastic!
– Diane Cooper, Cooking Instructor, SF Bay Area
Kasma's classes are like learning to cook from your mom. Kasma is warm and nurturing, making you feel comfortable learning something very new and different. The result is always exciting and delicious. It's given me a new appreciation for homemade Thai food and how much better it can be than the dishes served by Thai restaurants.
– Daryl Ansel, Director of Food Services, UCLA Housing & Hospitality Services.Thank you so much for what was one of the most interesting and fulfilling vacations I have ever experienced. A great alternative to spending five days in San Francisco with all the other tourists! Taking Kasma's Intensive Course this summer will be an experience my stomach will never forget! I appreciate Kasma's obvious enthusiasm for sharing her knowledge of Thai cuisine and culture. Stories of her childhood and travels in Thailand, as well as the detailed instruction for preparing those massive(!) daily menus, made the course a fine substitute for those who wanted to "experience" the magic of Thailand and can't travel to SouthEast Asia.
– Lilibeth Aycud, Japan
Judy Sharlip, Cooking Instructor, SF Bay Area
My two most intense "food epiphanies" were my first trip to Italy and the week I spent learning to cook Thai cuisine in Kasma's kitchen. The only problem with Kasma's food is that I may never again be happy with eating in 99% of the Thai restaurants out there!
– Paul McGuckin, Northern California