La saison des dons est imminente. La saison a débuté un jour seulement après le jour d’actions de grâce, nous étions heureux d’organiser notre premier cours en partenariat avec Holland America.
Ce vendredi dernier, nous avons accueilli nos premiers invités de “Holland America Cruise Lines”. La société propose des voyages dans le monde entier. Sur leurs itinéraires asiatiques, elle se rend souvent en Thaïlande, amarrée au port voisin de Laem Chabang. Une fois ici, les clients ont le choix de toutes sortes d’options pour des excursions d’une journée à la découverte de Bangkok et des provinces environnantes. Récemment, Holland America s’est associé à “Cuisine Courageuse” pour offrir à ses clients la possibilité de suivre un cours de cuisine thaïlandaise tout en aidant les personnes qui sont dans le besoin.
L’idée de faire venir des voyageurs en classe a commencé après que le personnel de l’entreprise eut lu une interview du fondateur de la Cuisine Courageuse (Courageous Kitchen), en la personne de Monsieur Dwight, sur les recettes et les vins proposes. Dans l’interview, Monsieur Dwight parle à la fois de ses endroits préférés où il fait beau de manger à Bangkok et de son œuvre caritative pour aider les citadins pauvres.
Le premier groupe qui a effectué la visite était composé d’Américains et de Canadiens, tous ont été sympathiques et désireux d’en savoir plus sur le travail de cette œuvre caritative. Alors que nous avons appris à nous connaître, ils ont appris à préparer quatre plats thaïlandais, dont notre fameuse recette de pad thaï et la délicieuse mais moins connue la salade de haricots.
Depuis que “la Cuisine Courageuse” propose des cours de cuisine thaïlandaise et des circuits de restauration de rue en 2017, nous avons accueilli plus de 600 invités. Bien que nous ayons encore beaucoup à faire, nous nous arrêtons cette semaine pour exprimer notre gratitude à nos anciens clients de nous avoir aidé à améliorer la vie de ceux qui sont dans le besoin. Bien sûr, un merci tout spécial à Holland America pour avoir cherché à entrer en contact avec des voyagistes plus responsables et pour avoir lancé la saison des dons en nous envoyant un excellent groupe de visiteurs!
“This was a really fun experience for our whole family. Also wonderful to know our tourism dollars we’re helping local people. Highly recommended."
Guest, October 2018
"Amazing cooking class. Lily, Nisha and Dwight were wonderful. I enjoyed the class immensely, and what a great organization!"
Guest, November 2019
"If you are in Bangkok you MUST visit Courageous Kitchen! Dwight and everyone gave us a top notch cooking experience. The food is SO good and you feel like you’re at home with family and friends while you’re there. I will return every chance that I get."
Guest, October 2018
Micro-Giving This Holiday with Amazon Smile
Don’t forget if you’re shopping with Amazon, this holiday you can select Courageous Kitchen as your charity of choice with Amazon Smile.
As your designated charity Amazon donates a small fraction of the proceeds of each sale back to our charity!
Today's shared plate is a piping hot bowl of mushroom soup known by locals as 'gaeng hed'. The soup's popularity pales in comparison to Thai cuisine's soup juggernauts such as tom yam, and tom kha soups. However, despite not having as strong a reputation, we believe...
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...
Giving season is upon us, and just a day after Thanksgiving we were happy to host our first class in partnership with Holland America.
This past Friday, we hosted our first guests from Holland America Cruise Lines. The company offers trips all over the world, and on their Asian itineraries often visit Thailand, docking at the nearby Laem Chabang port. Once here, guests have all sorts of options for day trips to explore Bangkok and the surrounding provinces. Recently, Holland America has connected with Courageous Kitchen to offer guests a chance to experience a Thai cooking class, while simultaneously giving back to people in need.
The first group to visit was made of Americans and Canadians, all friendly and eager to hear more about the work of the charity. While we got to know each other, they learned to make four Thai dishes, including our famous pad Thai recipe and the delicious, but lesser known wing bean salad.
Since Courageous Kitchen began offering Thai cooking classes and street food tours in 2017, we have hosted more than 600 guests. While we still have more growing to do, we’re pausing this week to express our gratitude to our past guests in helping us improve the lives of those in need. Of course a special thanks goes to Holland America for seeking to connect with more sustainable tour operators, and for kicking off the giving season by sending us a great group of guests!
Dwight is the director of Courageous Kitchen, and loves sharing his passion for food with new people.
We love social validation when we’re shopping. This goes for everything from taking a friend shopping when you’re feeling indecisive, to asking a friend their opinion on the charity you’re choosing to support. That’s why it’s a huge accomplishment that our Courageous Kitchen cooking class for tourists has surpassed 100 reviews on Airbnb Experiences. This is no easy accomplishment, and we’re proud to have garnered so many positives feedback in less than a year on the platform.
What is an Airbnb Social Impact Experience?
This past January we celebrated a year since the launch of our social enterprise offering cooking classes to travelers visiting Bangkok. As a new business, we really struggled during the first year to get new customers. Fortunately, we did have some success as one of the early experiences on the Airbnb marketplace called Airbnb Experiences. Most people know the company as an affordable way to find lodging when traveling, but they have recently begun offering other activities to travelers looking for things to do in new cities, including some with a significant social impact.
Without a doubt it can be hard to choose a cooking class in Bangkok. There are so many classes at different price levels and there are a variety of other online markets as well. This means when customers find our class highly recommended by Airbnb’s customers, they can expect our class is different from the run of the mill cooking classes offered by tour companies. In addition, as a recognized 501c3 in good standing, Airbnb collects no commission on the bookings made on their site. That means more money for buying quality ingredients, equipment, and funding our outreach in Bangkok!
Growing Pains and Negative Reviews
We’ve been teaching children in the marginalized community we serve to thrive in kitchen spaces for 5 years now. However, when we started this fun activity to help pump nutrition into the community, we didn’t expect it to prepare us to later host professional classes. In fact, teaching 30 children to cook at once would seem a lot more intimidating to most people, compared with the stress of teaching a small group of foreigners. However, we’ve had to learn other aspects of running the business beyond the teaching the hard way. For example, pricing can have a big impact on experience. If we’re priced too low, people book in hurry, classes are more crowded, and guests may arrive not knowing much about our organization. On the contrary, if the pricing is too high, we have fewer customers and their expectations for the cooking class are unrealistic.
Everyone who steps into our kitchen is different and we want to have an experience all can enjoy. This presents a unique challenge, however, that is especially difficult when managing different languages and personalities in a group. So while our reviews have been overwhelmingly positive, we have also had negative reviews impact our bookings. When customers are unhappy, we discuss their feedback as a team and consider how to improve the experience in the future. Here are common reasons people don’t enjoy the class, that we’re working to mitigate or have already solved:
Customer doesn’t know the class is charity run
Customer is uncomfortable because of heat, chairs, chili, amount of standing, etc…
Customer does not speak strong English
The most common problem our team has encountered when hosting guests from around the world has been around managing expectations. Since many customers book in a hurry, they often don’t read all of the info about the class. This means customers can arrive expecting to be cooking in a professional kitchen, or in today’s tense political climate, may not know until arriving they have booked a class in support of refugees — often a divisive political issue. All of these issues are exacerbated when customers don’t speak much English or Thai. We won’t be able to solve all of these problems instantly, but we strive to produce a high quality class each session, and want to be transparent about the challenges.
How You Can Help
As people learn about opportunities with Airbnb, it becomes more competitive. We have to work harder at generating more direct bookings, instead of being overly dependent on Airbnb or another third party. We always need help sharing our cooking class with friends visiting Bangkok, and need continued support for the educational support we offer those in need. Finally, if you’ve attended a class, consider leaving a review on our growing Tripadvisor profile as well!
Thank you for following our project, and until the next update stay courageous!