“IT was love at first bite,” Spirit House Restaurant and Cooking School proprietor Helen Brierty says of her food experiences in Thailand.
For the past six years, the contemporary Thai cuisine restaurant in Yandina on the Sunshine Coast has run tag-along tours to Thailand with participants visiting temples, enjoying cultural visits, exploring ruins and indulging in street food.
Helen said the concept of the tag-along tour was that flights and accommodation were booked independently, and guests tagged-along with a Spirit House chef and tour escort, who took them off the beaten track and wandered through markets and hidden lanes to experience unique tastes and recipes from local vendors.
The idea started with people who were having breakfast in five-star hotels but who wanted to eat in the street stalls.
They didn’t have the confidence to know what to order or where to go, so they would ask the Briertys if they could join them on their street stall adventures.
Helen and Peter’s son Acland lived in Thailand for more than two years and has learnt the Thai language, making him well-qualified as a group escort.
Helen said a Spirit House senior chef joined Acland on the tour because they used the journey to share their knowledge as well as gather skills, new ideas and inspirations so they could blend the old cooking traditions with modern twists.
She emphasised that this was not a cooking trip, but a tour that looked at where the food and ingredients originated, and little things such as what a tamarind tree looked like, how curry paste was made and learning the techniques to make Persian fairy floss by hand.
The tours explored the original city of Bangkok and the specialty food stalls and restaurants.
She said the city was steeped in history and influences such as the use of spices that had formed eating habits and shaped Thai food into what it was today.
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