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Freestyle cooking event #3 : Our process of learning by doing.

We had a fun night of making an Italian foods. There are five dishes to served 8 people , more than enough right? I did enjoy my first time of making my own pizza very much. It was fun and yum! I am sure we could not get this experience like this in any restaurant. But there are something that was bugged me.

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Before we formed the group of Freestyle cooking. I talk with Sam. We agreed that there would be some mistakes on our process of building an effective group of linked mind cooking people. We could not wait until it perfect to start to do it. We just have to make it happened. Then we would learn and fix things that is not right.

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Here are what we learn from this time.

- We got confirmed that we would have 11 people in total of our group. But while we were shopping , there are three people who texted me to cancel in our last minutes of shopping. The one who would bring one more friend got an important client that change the schedule to the same time we would cook. Another one who canceled had a late meeting and didn’t want to participate if she came late.

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What would we do? We could not do anything as our system was not supported to this problem yet. So next time , we would fix it by having a new policy of cancellation.

- We found out that Italian cuisine was very expensive in Thailand. Some ingredients like risotto cost around 470Baht here instead of 100Baht in Europe.

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Even organizers had to pay as same amount as joiners. They still have to pay extra for the over budget of buying ingredients and stuffs. So we would raise the fee from 200Baht to 300Baht for the next event which we think it is still be a very reasonable price.

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- Sam had the idea to served white wine and soft drink to raise the fund. Finally we found out that we were too shy to ask people directly to donate more money than the fee they pay for foods. So we would not do this again. Next time our policy would be Bring your own alcohol.

That were all we had learned. We enjoyed our time of cooking. But we need a good system to make this event works well. If it works well. We could spread out what we do right now to the bigger community.

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Meet the popular chef in Christchurch , New Zealand.

The day I met the most popular chef in Christchurch, New Zealand was just another long and crazy day for me, but one I would remember for a lifetime!
After sleeping in the back of my car and using public toilets to clean up before bed. I left Wellington in the early morning and drove to the port to take a ferry crossing from the north to the south island. My first stop in New Zealand’s south island was Kaikoura. I enjoyed the stunning views along the coast plus a very friendly greeting from wild seals. I decided to spend a $25 night for a dorm room because I needed a warm shower.

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Kaikoura is a well-known town for marine wildlife. It was a pity that I didn’t have enough time to explore this area. A more important mission awaited me. It was a cozy bed in a private room!
I headed from Kaikoura to Christchurch. It was the season for white bait fishing so as drove further along the coast, I noticed fisherman trying to catch this kind of fish.

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Getting to Christchurch was not as easy as I thought. I left town around 10am. My host told me It was about 100 Km away from Kaikoura but actually it was about 160 km. Two hours to drive 160 km seems to be an easy task. But……
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Everything in Christchurch was different, many roads were closed and it was my first time driving there! So yes, it was exciting and adventurous. I was quite stressed because I knew that the making the first impression on my host was important.
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So how did I find my host whom I had never met before?
Well, I used a map plus a sense of direction! I was used to navigating this as I did it all the time.

Tama was the first one to come out and greet me. Actually he knew that I would not find the house as the address was hidden in a private area.

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Wowww… What a big house I thought. It was a very lovely house in a super nice area, which would have been prefect before the big earthquake. The house was made from kauri wood which resisted the effects of the earthquake. That was the only reason this house was still standing, while the neighborhood bridge and other houses were collapsed.
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No more time to discuss the earthquake. Tama, Desley and Dale had an appointment. They told me to come before noon and I just made it on time. So after I moved my stuff into my nice, new private room, we hopped into the car and drove to another place which I had no idea about.
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I did later get some more information about earthquake from Dale (Desley’s brother) while Tama drove. Lot of places were destroyed by this earthquake. In total, 185 people were killed in the earthquake, making it the second-deadliest natural disaster recorded in New Zealand. Many people moved out. Not Tama and Desley because they have a business in this town.


Once again I found my hosts were business people. They owned a restaurant called Burger N Beers, and I was to accompany them on their visit to an important partner “Andrew Brown” who had the important position of running their restaurant in his role as a chef.
What an unforgettable lifetime experience!


I was given the chance to meet one of the most popular chefs in Christchurch, who working as an executive chef at The George Hotel. It is a five star hotel in the middle of a ruined city.


It was a bit of an awkward afternoon among Tama and Desley’s family and friends. There were about ten New Zealanders and only one Thai guy. They invited me to join barbecue and Andrew made a whitebait omelet which I had never tried it before.


I was about to adjust my behavior and adapt myself into the group, as Tama’s colleagues looked a bit like gangsters, but yeahhh that was fine by me.


After drinking some whiskey, Tama came out with his bad sense of humor by asking a new question;
He walked like a mafia gang member and put his hands on the shoulders of the guys who sat near him. His question was clear and loud enough to make people laugh.

Do you like men?


Damn it!!! He did it one by one and it was about my turn……
Well, finally I had to play this game. I took a risk and answered him.

Yes, I like you. So tonight we’ll have a good time together.
Hahahahahahah….I did break the ice.

This is Tama and Desley’s restaurants. : http://www.burgersandbeersinc.co.nz/about-us/
Ps. I have not taken any photos of Andrew’s private party. But I took some VDO. I would put it here soon when I have time to do it.

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Andrew Brown Appointed Executive Chef at The George Hotel,
Christchurch, New Zealand

June 13, 2007 – Andrew Brown has been appointed new Executive Chef at The George hotel, Christchurch.

He has just returned from the United States, competing with the New Zealand Culinary Team at one of the world’s top culinary competitions, the American Culinary Classic in Chicago.

Andrew has been Executive Chef at the Millennium hotel, Christchurch for the past five years and prior to that was head chef at the award-wining Nor’Wester Café and Bar at Amberley in the Waipara wine region of Canterbury. He has catered for royalty and has received numerous culinary awards.

He will head a team of 15 extremely talented chefs at The George, including Executive Sous-Chef, Guy Stanaway who is the current Salon Culinaire South Island Chef of the Year.

Bruce Garrett, The George’s General Manager said he was delighted to welcome Andrew Brown to the helm of the hotel’s award-winning restaurants, where past Executive Chefs have included Hamish Brown and Rick Rutledge-Manning.

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Traditional Thai cuisine in the heart of Bangkok-Ban Khun Mae

Ban Khun Mae is a traditional Thai restaurant it’s incredibly easy to get to at just a stone’s throw away from the BTS station, Siam. If it wasn’t for the steady stream of hungry diners you’d almost forget you are in a buzzing megatropolis scrape.

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The restaurant has two floors and caters for 200 patrons. Despite the capacity for a large number of diners, the dining room ambience has a homely feel. Every ledge is adorned with the owners collection of Thai antiques, and sepia photographs steeped in local history hang from the rustic walls. The exposed wooden beams and trusses create alcoves to make your dining experience feel more intimate. Every night between the hours of 7pm and 9pm you will be ingratiated with performances of traditional Thai music.

The restaurant is renowned for catering to tourists from both east and west alike. If you’re seeking an introduction to Thai food, consider adding this to your travel itinerary.

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All their sauces and pastes are home-made and because they craft their own, it’s possible to infer your preferred spice level upon ordering.

There is also an extensive drinks and wine menu available. The wines being are disproportionally over priced when compared to the food menu however this is commonly the case in Bangkok and nothing to write home about.

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For starters, why not try their freshly steamed tapioca steamed dumplings, stuffed with pork and sweet crushed roasted peanuts. The tapioca pastry exhibits a beautiful sheen and the rich caramelized meaty filling offsets the delicate pastry perfectly.

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Their appetizer of minced chicken, pea and sweet corn in a pastry shell despite not particularly robust in flavour, makes for a great a sharing plate. The juicy vegetables and crispy pastry serve as refreshing lead into what’s to come.

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Try their seafood specialties such as whole grouper in a sweet and sour sauce. Served over a flaming burner this ensures the dish is piping hot while you tuck into other delicacies.

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Or try their freshly steamed chilli crab in an aromatic sauce made from the head meat, egg and curry powder. This dish is delicious but excessively oily and leaves my lip stained mouth looking a little too vampiric.

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If you’re feeling adventurous why not try their raw shrimp served with a mouth-watering chilli dipping sauce. The prawn meat is deliciously fresh with a creamy rich texture and the piquant sauce cuts though the richness of the prawn meat making the dish unbelievably moreish.

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Follow through with your adventurous streak and try their steamed seafood curry paste served inside a young coconut husk. This uniquely presented ‘dish’ encapsulates authentic Thai flavours of fish sauce, fragrant kaffir lime leaf and red chilli to name but a few.

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For authentic and intense Thai flavours tuck into their chilli paste bar – a selection of bamboo steamed vegetables or fried fish served with an option of three dipping sauces: Firstly the Northern nam prik ong, of which its main ingredients are chilli paste, tomatoes and minced pork. The divergent sweet and sour flavours work well to complement each other. Secondly, nam prik kapi, the most widespread chilli paste of all, contains the ubiquitous shrimp paste and imparts rich salty & spicy flavours and finally Nam phrik long ruea, an elaborate spicy and fruity paste.

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The desserts are crafted traditionally from what looks like an exhibit from a heritage museum. The open cooking station smoulders with saccharine syrups boiling in antique pans and a traditional bamboo platter is laid out with steamed desserts. The desserts range from the national favourite mango sticky rice, to various assortments of stewed fruits and tubers glazed in delicious sweet syrup with coconut milk.

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Thai food is about the marriage of divergent flavours to create harmonious contrasts in flavours and textures. Despite their gentle approach to chilli this is evident in the restaurants offerings. Ban Khun Mae is a great introduction to Thai food and if you’re indecisive or unfamiliar with Thai cuisine then let their specially selected set menus guide you through a smorgasbord of Thai flavours. The choice of three set menus priced at 460thb for two people seems decidedly excellent value for money. This restaurant can be frequented for any occasion and its central location makes it perfect to drop by planned or unplanned.

Find out why this long established restaurant has been packing tourists and locals alike, for over 16 years. Transcend your senses to experience time honoured classics in this deep rooted oasis of calm.

 

Address: 458/6-9 Siam Square Soi 8, Rama 1 Road,Patumwan District,Bangkok, 10330,Thailand

Phone number: (662)250-1952-3

Opening hours: 11:00am – 11:00pm

Transport: BTS Siam

Price: Meal for one with soft drinks: around 250thb

Written by : SE.

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Cooking and cooked in Bangkok.

It was our pleasure when we organized the first Freestyle cooking event on Friday 22nd ,August. I posted it on couchsurfing boad event on Wednesday. We were not sure whether anyone wanted to join.

Then I got an email from Veronica. We was very happy and here is Veronica’s honest review for us.

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Here I am, staying 6 weeks in Bangkok. That seems little bit too much for a nature lover who most of all enjoys hours and days walking the hills or even better hiking in the mountains, crossing freezing rivers barefoot, sleeping in the tent and eating from the aluminum pots.

I am coming to Bangkok as a volunteer in a small guesthouse that for exchange for your help provide accommodation. This gives you some freedom and time to explore the town on your own pace, meet new people and learn everyday something new.

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But what exactly can you learn in 6 weeks? In a country with so many flavors that basically every day one can taste different dish without being bored… Where just walking on the street makes you hungry… Where you want to find out about the importance of five fundamental taste senses: sour, sweet, salty, bitter and (of course) spicy. Yes, I want to learn more about Thai food, the secret why it is so popular and desired by so many foreigners who later come back again and again.

The plan is easy: we shop, we cook, we eat…

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It was a “last minute” call, when I found the message from Petz on the CouchSurfing web saying Freestyle cooking group: TODAY. It was 11 am and the “group” was supposed to meet at 2 pm. Hurry, hurry! Luckily living in the 21st century has this huge advantage of fast messages exchange, so at 1.30 pm I was on my way to Thong Lo station to meet Petz and Sam.

 

I recognized them straight away – Sam was in the middle of taking pictures of all different products and street food stalls while Petz was explaining origin and purpose of each item. “Hey…how are you?…where are you from?…” the easy introduction chat, little observation and sharing the fact that all of us love food and cooking. After few minutes we knew the cooking group has the best assets to enjoy the very first cooking afternoon while creating the mouth watering food.

Today’s menu: Sweet & Sour Stir Fried Vegetable with Prawns, Minced Pork Omelet and Thai Green Curry. Yum!

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We spent about an hour and half in the marker choosing the right ingredients and flavors for our dishes. We did shopping in the supermarket and bought some vegetable on the local market on the way to Sam’s apartment where we were supposed to cook. Her kitchen is perfect for small group of excited food lovers, so we immediately started the initial preparation – washing vegetable, cutting meat…and obviously taking pictures :)

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The cooking itself didn’t take very long, most of the Thai dishes are being prepared on a single pan and usually don’t take more than 10 minutes. We started with omelet with minced pork. The preparation was easy so did the frying. The difference between Thai omelet and European one is the seasoning. Here we put fish sauce and lime juice, which made it nice and fluffy. The main ingredient however was minced pork (which I personally didn’t even notice). We decorated with fresh chilly and mint leaves…hmm.

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Thai green curry was our second dish and that was definitely a big success. I absolutely loved that!!! Petz was leading us, telling us what to do, what to put first, etc. We used chicken breast with skin and we add a small amount of pork cooked blood which was very nice when cooked in green curry. As a vegetable we chosen baby egg plants, wing bean and coconut milk.Thisdiffers from what I usually use for curry back at home (potatoes, carrot, capsicum and chick peas). The green curry was served with rice or Chinese noodles or Kanom Jean ??? both of them great!!

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The stir fried vegetable with shrimps was the last of all dishes and was probably the one that took the longest to prepare as we needed the vegetable to be nice and soft. The flavors were nicely mixed as we started with crushed garlic, later we added oyster sauce, fish sauce, lime juice and sugar. Here we put lot of vegetable: carrot, onion, tomatoes and cucumber which cooked together. I personally didn’t really enjoy the taste of cooked cucumber as cucumber is in my country usually eaten fresh in salads. So this was the ‘first time’ for me.

We prepared everything, now it is time to try, yay!

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It was definitely nice experience. I loved to try new way of cooking, different preparation and ingredients, some very different from what we are used to back in Europe. I enjoyed the way of cooking when Patz gives us instructions. Sam and I tried to make it by ourselves, step by step, as well as taking notes and pictures of the whole procedure. This gives you the idea of the time needed for the preparation and cooking.

 

Great, now I just use my new skills to prepare some of these dishes to my family once back at home :) Keep you posted how it goes, hehe!

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We had join , We had fun. We had seasoning in our mouth.

We had join , We had fun. We had cooked with a pleasure. As we stated that our Freestyle cooking group is for anyone who love to cook or want to learn how to cook. Our goal is to bring all the same liked minds together to enjoy our time of cooking . You don’t have to be a good cook or a chef to join our group.

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This time was our second time of organizing this event. There are a lot of things we could learn from our mistakes. Here are what we learned.

- The fresh market that we designed to shop which is a local market near Sanseab river had not got all ingredients we needed. We wasted a lot of time as it started at 3pm. And we suppose to finish our event by 6 pm.

- The second place after Sanseab market that we went to shop was Max value. It had very few choices of selections. So we still need to find other places to buy all ingredients we wanted. We had to solve the problem quickly and it turned out that Petz had to take a motorbike taxi to find ingredients that were still missing.

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- Petz went to a couple of places. And he had not had enough time to pick the best ingredients he wanted and it would be effected later on. But he found that the best place that had most of ingredients was food land. So we decided that next time we would started from there , not the fresh market.

- The Pad Thai dish that Petz thought it would be a highlight of this event turned out to be his disappointment. The noodle was too soft and the taste was quite plain. He got a secret recipe that he did it well in New Zealand. But it was not be written in exact quantity. So he used his feeling to decide how much each quantities and it was a big mistake. He learned that next time he have to do more homework.

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- Chicken Tomyum was a mistake as well. We found out that the curry paste we bought had only 30 grams of the paste. But we need 50 grams. And we put 5 tomatoes instead of 2 which turned out to be a tomato soup , not a Tomyum soup.

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Conclusion :

1. Ingredients is a very important factor of cooking.

2. We need to do a homework of exact amount of each ingredients. And we should plan more for the place to shop.

4. Panang curry turned out well as Petz has made curry many time. So he had got some experience of making it. But we could improve it as Petz notice that the pork is a bit hard. So next time we could do something to make pork more soften and it would make this dish even better.