Twenty chefs and restaurant executives from eight countries – Vietnam, Philippines, India, Nepal, Japan, Hong Kong, France and Thailand – recently took part in a five-day trip to educate them in the art of Isaan cuisine.
“Isaan is a wonderful region that exudes rural charm and authentic Thai culture. For foodies and fans of Thai cuisine, Isaan is a treasure trove of aromatic ingredients, fresh flavours and traditional cooking techniques, which have given rise to many world-famous dishes,” said Trevor MacKenzie, Mango Tree’s global managing director.
“This makes Isaan the perfect destination for our chefs to learn about the history and art of Thai cuisine. The five-day tour introduced our global team to many of the region’s culinary highlights, while also showing them how to create Isaan’s most popular dishes in the traditional style. I am confident that this initiative will help to improve the authenticity of the Isaan food produced at our global network of restaurants, thus raising the bar for international Thai gastronomy,” he added.
The trip included visits to Nakhon Ratchasima and Khon Kaen, traditional villages, farms and heritage sites including Phimai Historical Park. Throughout the journey, chefs were introduced to the Northeast’s gastronomic culture through cooking workshops, farm tours and restaurant visits.
The chefs visited the Mango House Farm, where they learned how to create som tum mamuang (spicy mango salad) and nam pla wan (sweet fish sauce dipping eaten with unripe mangoes), the Som Tum Pan Laan restaurant to learn about the different varieties of som tum and other Isaan favourites such as pad mee Korat, a local noodle dish, and MeKin de Farmily, where they learned about rice production and picked their own herbs and vegetables. Here, they learnt the art of rice planting and about the indigenous herbs and spices that are grown in the region and that are essential for Isaan food, as well as the entire process, from the planting to the cooking, with guidance from local farm owners.
The trip came to an end with a demonstration by the chefs of what they are learned during the trip.