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Prem School teaches kids the fundamentals of food

Prem School teaches kids the fundamentals of food

The Cooking Academy’s very own small organic restaurant on campus.

By Shana Kongmun
The last Friday of every month sees a day that parents and students of Prem Tinsulanonda International School alike look forward to, market day just inside the front gate. And if anyone finds themselves out Prem way, it’s highly recommended. The school’s organic kitchen garden sells its produce on that day, with luscious tomatoes, juicy pineapples and fragrant herbs among the produce for sale at highly reasonable prices.

Some of the organically grown corn that students help to raise, harvest and then cook.
Kyle Cornforth, Co-Director of the Organic Cooking Academy and Farm at Prem, recently hired away from the Edible Schoolyard founded by Alice Waters of Chez Panisse fame, is one of two women to talk to about the kitchen garden and the accompanying cooking school, the other being the other director of the Cooking Academy, Su-Mei Yu. Their enthusiasm for the project excites even the non-gardener.
Students at the school are engaged in all processes of their meal preparation. From growing the herbs and vegetables in the organic garden, to weeding, to learning about necessary growing conditions, to composting, raising pigs, goats and a water buffalo to help the fertility of the soil. They then progress to harvesting the fruits of their labor, and learning to cook with them. The students even built a mud brick oven, they have cooked pizzas and bread on site in the oven. The school even plans to start growing rice so that kids can see all aspects of the production of their food.

One of the farm staff roasts organically grown corn from the farm for sale at the market.
Once in the cooking school the children learn how to use a mortar and pestle to make their own curry pastes and sauces, using herbs for flavoring and to make teas, and cooking meals. Students also study the medicinal properties of Thai herbs and spices and their applications in real life.
The school has recently expanded its curriculum, starting a residential cooking school for adults, with a four day vegetarian cooking course that includes a class on the Thai philosophy of health and the theory of the basic 9 natural tastes, flavors and aromas. Students will visit a Thai natural healer and learn the medicinal uses of herbs and spices, and visit a traditional local market to shop for vegetables and fruits. Included is the opportunity, as a guest of a Thai family, to cook and prepare alms and baskets of offerings for monks and attend the local Wat, receive blessings from the monks and stay for lunch with other participants at the temple.
The school also has a small restaurant on site, in the original house built by the school’s founder, M.L. Tridhosyuth (Tri) Devakul, available for special bookings. For more information please contact the school, www.premcenter.org-cooking/farm.

Sheena Jackson, Organic Farm Coordinator,
sells produce from the farm at the Friday market.

Kyle Cornforth welcomes visitors to the Organic farm’s market day.