Me, Myself and Thai

Photos and words by David Santori

The mood: first snow day of the year and more precisely first snow of the winter season in D.C.

The scene: BKK Cookshop in Shaw hosting Beau Thai for their first ever cooking class with chef and founder Aschara Vigsittaboot.

The food: papaya salad, larb gai and green curry - three dishes to prepare combining the wonderful flavors of Thailand intertwining sour, sweet, salty, bitter and of course, spicy.

They braved the elements and they came to learn how to cook Thai food. The eight food enthusiasts were greeted by Ralph from the Beau Thai team with a cocktail, wine or beer - a great way to warm up bodies and ease up conversations as they stood in the beautiful setting at BKK Cookshop surrounded by blue hued walls paired with golden lines and lit up by wonderfully quaint and decorative filament bulbs with twisted red cords encased in lobster trap wire baskets. A must see! The main table was set. The menus and instructions printed out. The mortar bowls lined up. And all ingredients already on display on the table. 3, 2, 1, have fun and get cooking…

Chef Aschara is a master at tying the elements of her upbringing, her family story and her cooking experience with her love for Thai food and sharing that wonderful gift with other people. It’s fascinating listening to her because she brings that certain wisdom and know-how from a land far, far away and brings it to life around the table while everyone listens attentively.

Soon, the entire space was filled with the most delectable Thai scents you can possibly imagine. The fish sauce, lime juice and sugar combo for the papaya salad preparation transported me to a very pleasant place while satisfying my wanderlust. The ingredients were crushed in the mortar bowls, the shrimp delicately placed on top of the shredded papaya tossed with other ingredients, the air became a tiny bit spicier with the garlic and Thai chili peppers, and it was only the beginning.

I think my knees started to weaken when the ground chicken began to cook in the woks and the green curry paste infused the room with lemongrass, cilantro root and coriander seed flavors. There is something about all these ingredients mixed together that brings a smile on everyone’s face. When the coconut milk was poured over the ingredients and the curry was simmering, I know many stomachs were growling in anticipation. Because that’s just how it happens during a Thai cooking class with the Beau Thai team. They make it easy, accessible, fun, but above all appetizing and enticing.

This is when I should probably mention that their next classes are on February 11 and 12, both at 1:00pm (see below for links). And guess what? In honor of Valentine’s Day, they are preparing a “Date Night at Home” menu - easy dishes, fun atmosphere around the table, hands-on experience while cooking, complimentary wine/beer and their cocktail du jour on draft, and of course tasty recipes to make again for you and your significant other. Garden rolls, mango salad and fried rice could very well be part of your Valentine’s menu at home thanks to the recipe cards you will receive.

I don’t know what you’re planning to do for Valentine’s Day but I know Beau Thai’s got your back to make the evening extra spicy… I mean extra special.

Try the February classes:

Saturday, February 11, 1pm class.

Sunday, February 12, 1pm class. 

Get the papaya salad recipe here!


Photographer, blogger, Instagram addict and Parisian expat, David Santori has spent 17 years in the country before recently settling down in our nation’s capital. David’s musings are sprinkled with food, colors, lifestyle photos, travel experiences as well as humorous cultural differences. Follow his adventures @frenchieyankee on Instagram. And no, David does not own a béret.