Courageous Kitchen typically provides weekly English and cooking class to students from marginalized communities. This is important work and partially funded by our efforts to host cooking classes and street food tours for tourists visiting Bangkok. However, a few times a year we invite the youth we serve to take part in a multi day cooking camp. We recently hosted the first camp for this year and invite you to watch the following slideshow from the event:
During the camp we have more time to review and drill the English vocabulary the students are usually learning in Saturday classes. Since the kids are usually cooking every meal, they have extra time to develop in the kitchen as well. During the camps we invite teachers from outside the charity to help us expand what we can offer students including specialized cooking, art, drama, and music activities.
We believe all of the classes work well in tandem with our English teaching curricula, by giving the students plenty of opportunity to practice their English in the kitchen, and during other fun activities. The biggest challenge is that the students all come from a variety of backgrounds. Some have participated in our classes since they were very young, with our pre-school teaching being their first organized classroom experience. Others may still be new to our classes, and have only rudimentary knowledge of English. Each camp is special because with more time to spend with the students, we can more easily identify where a student may be excelling, or needing more encouragement and assistance.
If you’ve visited us before, you know our specialty is teaching and cooking Thai cuisine. However, in the slideshow from the most recent camp we were able to offer a variety of dishes, thanks to our volunteer chefs, teaching the kids to make Vietnamese cuisine, and western dishes such as hamburgers and pizza. Since the majority of our students don’t usually have an opportunity to eat in restaurants, they cherish the chance to try new dishes and learn about how people in different cultures eat in other parts of the world.
We are so grateful to everyone involved, especially visiting teachers who braved through Thailand’s summer weather, and all of our sponsors. If you’re interested in to sponsor a future camp, just leave a note when you donate online that the funds are for our cooking camp. As a small organization with no institutional funding, your support is so important to us!
With heavy hearts we are forced to cancel all of our cooking classes in Sri Lanka for the time being. The past few months have been unstable politically, and today that instability spilled over into violence. If you have friends or loved ones in Sri Lanka, we implore you to check in with them, as this is one of the most egregious attacks in recent history.
Join us in praying and donating towards helping the people of Sri Lanka during this difficult time. We will work with all existing guests to cancel and refund their bookings for our class in Sri Lanka. For those concerned, our students, nor the family teaching Sri Lankan recipes have been injured in the recents bombings. However, the situation continues to deteriorate, and due to the country’s tragic history of violence, we are canceling classes until further notice as a precaution.
We apologize for any inconvenience this may cause, and join hands with those who love Sri Lanka in mourning victims of recent attacks, and praying for peace.
The creators of the Netflix show Chef’s Table will soon debut a series dedicated to Asia’s heroes of street food to the network. When guests on our own street food tour first mentioned this show’s upcoming launch, it was hard not to feel excitement followed swiftly by— well duh, about time!
Watch the trailer for the show, which promises to take viewers to 9 destinations in search of Asia’s best street food.
Judging by the trailer this should soon be one of Netflix’s most successful food shows yet, and foodies will have a snack ready to watch when it becomes available April 26th. Short of rewatching earlier episodes of Bourdain’s Parts Unknown, there is a serious gap between documentary style food shows, and travel shows with cursory discussion of food. We hope Street Food, even if the show is set to the pace of Chef’s Table, will usher in more interesting content about delicious, approachable food.
Let’s be clear though, to be successful the show has to navigate beyond the pure novelty of street food and actually tell people’s stories. The promise to “Meet the Local Heroes” is the most promising aspect of the coming show— well, that and the youtube trailer subliminally suggests we should all be eating more chili crab at least 3-4 times. Cravings aside, food is the access point for better understanding a hardworking group of courageous folks who hit the streets without any of the investment, resources, and even the legal status traditional businesses enjoy.
Future seasons will also have to answer for the first criticism to be leveled at the trailer — hey where the heck is Malaysia? Viewers quickly noticed that the Chef’s Table team is definitely missing an episode featuring Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. Kuala Lumpur’s (or more casually known as KL) absence definitely feels like a snub, but we’re confident the show will get there. Hopefully along with a few more eating trips to show off more of the culinary scenes in Japan, India, and, fingers crossed, Thailand too.
Hunting some scenes to savor until Street Food launches? Here’s the most notable mentions of Thai food on Netflix. You’ll certainly see why we’re craving more:
Parts Unknown – S03E07
Somebody Feed Phil – Episode 1
Chef’s Table – Bo.lan Feature S05E03
Here’s the 9 cities where the Chef’s Table film crew ended up eating for the first season of Street Food:
Jay Fai (Michelin starred crab omelet, tom yum soup, drunken noodles), Khun Suthep (hand-pulled BBQ pork noodles) & Jek Pui (khao gaeng curries)
Toyo (tuna cooked with a blowtorch), Mr. Kita (takoyaki), &Goshi (okonomiyaki)
February is an exciting month for Courageous Kitchen! Not only have our weekend classes for at risk youth began again, but there are lots of other food and travel happenings this time of year. Most notably, one of our founders, Dwight Turner, will be speaking at The Seasons press conference this week. The event is hosted by the Thailand Authority of Tourism (TAT), and has rounded up a panel of people from varying backgrounds whose businesses or personal passion are impacting Thailand for the better.
Here’s a sneak peek into TAT’s interview with Dwight, where he discusses starting Courageous Kitchen, and connecting his personal passion for food with his mission to feed and educate more children in Bangkok.
How did you start CK and what is your objective?
Courageous Kitchen began because I was looking for a way to give back in my free time, but I didn’t know what to do. When a friend invited me to help teach English in a few poorer communities, I fell in love with it. Gradually I wanted to contribute more and more.
Later when I moved outside of the city center, we had space for a kitchen and I began to combine these two passions. Quickly we learned that the kitchen is a great classroom. Students who were shy about speaking English suddenly had context, an application, and an urgency to speak in the kitchen. As their language skills improved, so did their confidence.
Why do you use food as a medium to help you achieve your goals?
I love to eat and Bangkok is full of food and food enthusiasts. So it’s a great way to get people’s attention and bring them together for a purpose. This is true even when it may seem like we don’t have anything in common. We may speak a different language, have different skin color, but when we sit at the table together, we share and learn about each other.
What do you think of Thai food? What makes Thai cuisine outstanding to you?
I love Thai food because of the diversity of influences on the cuisine. There is such a pronounced Indian influence, the Chinese influence is probably the strongest, and there’s an interesting impact from the hill tribes and neighboring countries in the region as well.
This makes Thai food versatile for different types of people. You may not love chili and chicken feet curry, you may be vegetarian, or have another preference, but there’s likely a Thai dish out there for you.
Why are you interested in helping society, and helping underprivileged kids in Bangkok?
As a Black American I was raised with very strong sense of social justice. That all people are valuable, and that all people should be treated equally. Until this becomes a reality, we have a lot of work to do to create a better future for today’s kids. That’s true all over the world, but trying to solve global problems can seem overwhelming. That’s why it’s best to start by being the change we want to see in our local communities.
As a nonprofit, what do you expect to get in return for you work?
As a nonprofit, my job is challenging and rewarding everyday. There’s a very real challenge to captivate people’s attention long enough to share about people in need, and convince them to take action. However, seeing students, who may have never been in a real restaurant before, imagining themselves as chefs, speaking English more confidently, and becoming leaders in their families is a pretty great reward.
Any upcoming plans for CK?
At the moment we’re looking into ways to grow and strengthen our business. We don’t want to be solely dependent on people’s donations, so we’re looking to offer more to tourists who love food, and are passionate about making a difference with their visit to Thailand.
Is there a place in Thailand that you’re especially impressed by and why?
I recently got married in Langsuan, Chumporn. Each time we visit my wife’s family there I usually spend time in the gardens picking fruit off of the nutmeg, taling pling, and other trees in the yard. We have one cousin with a palm orchard, and another growing durian! I know you may expect me to say mountains or beaches, but it’s hard to beat family and food!
Thank you to TAT for hosting Dwight this week! We look forward to continuing this discussion as Thailand’s responsible tourism scene continues to develop. Other guests on the panel include representatives from Pop Art Bann 36, Immanuel Music School, Tlejourn Shoes, and Thai celebrity Top Pipat Apirakthanakorn.
Although information about them isn’t always readily available, there are many great nonprofit organizations in Bangkok. The work they’re doing is interesting, important, and diverse in each orgs’ area of impact. As we share in our Thai cooking class with guests about our work serving Bangkok’s most marginalized youth, we often have opportunities to point people towards other organizations as well.
Here’s a brief description, followed by links, to charities we believe you should know about, and may not easily come across on your own.
**Special thanks to the University of California’s EAP Internship program with Thammasat University for bringing many of these great organizations to our attention.
South East Asia is a hotbed of political unrest and tension between parties jockeying to have a say in how each country develops. While the style of government differs in each country, there are none that can deny the importance of hearing citizens’ voices. Bangkok based ANFREL works to develop fair elections and an informed populace throughout the region.
Pronounced like the word ‘needed’ this organization serves to find ways to solve capacity problems of nonprofits, while simultaneously serving the CSR needs of corporations. Organizations short of funding, training, or technical know-how find the Needeed team, who helps develop and execute a plan. While helping organizations who serve those most in need, they also assist companies in accomplishing the volunteering and giving objectives of organizations genuinely interested in corporate social responsibility.
The Cross-Cultural Foundation works to build on peace-making efforts in conflict prone areas. Their work takes on a variety of forms from petitioning governments to defend human rights’, to providing legal aid to those in need, and working hands on with victims of torture to strengthen resilience in communities. Their work is needed in Thailand’s southernmost province where conflict ensues, as well as other similar places throughout the region.
Internews is an organization battling to solve information poverty. They operate on the pillar that access to truthful, credible information improves quality of life for all. This includes working behind the scenes to promote media literacy in the region, as well as supporting less represented communities to produce their own news content. These efforts serve to create better quality information sources that all types of people in varied locations can use to make more informed choices.
The People Serving People Foundation is focused on serving vulnerable populations throughout the region. Their efforts focus on self reliance and legal aid for at risk communities. The organization is also responsible for operating the social enterprise Chamaliin, which produces sustainable handicrafts supporting urban refugees.
Wedu is an organization focusing on bolstering the role of women in societies around South East Asia. Their focus is helping provide funding, training, and mentorship for women as they pursue higher education and ambitious careers. Most notably their FISA (Future Income Sharing Agreements) program allows ambitious young women an alternative to loans in order to secure the financing needed to further their higher education endeavors.
Childsafe, an organization protecting children, is an organization relevant to both visitors to Thailand and locals alike. Their Think Child Safe! campaign hopes to educate people on how they may be unknowingly endangering children. They are providing guidelines for the best child protection policies in a wide breadth of situations where people may come in contact with minors. The Childsafe organization is instrumental in training local businesses and key individuals in communities on how to identify and report abuse of children. The training they offer is available for everyone from a 5-star hotel’s general manager, to tour guides, and local neighborhood tuk tuk taxi drivers.
The Asia Pacific Trans Network or APTN is an organization advocating for the human rights of gender diverse people in Asia. Now more than ever people are becoming aware of how gender bias and discrimination in a society can negatively impact and endanger lives. Despite being increasingly discussed in the western world, recognizing each individuals human rights regardless of gender, is still a developing conversation in South East Asia. This makes the work of APTN both challenging and especially relevant in today’s efforts to create more welcoming and inclusive societies.
Last, but not least Courageous Kitchen! While our cooking classes and street food tours are among the most popular in Thailand, not everyone knows about our social mission. Long before we were teaching master classes on pad thai, our team was active in marginalized communities providing transformational assistance and education. We believe food has the power to transform communities and treat the kitchen as a classroom, teaching aspiring young cooks to speak English better, thrive under pressure, and develop leadership skills.