Spatulas at the Ready as Culinary Students Make Thai Meal

by Myra Saturen; photos by Brian Shaud
November 07, 2012

Chef Oak and a student enjoy cooking ThaiThe kitchen of Hampton Winds, the fine dining restaurant run by culinary students at Northampton Community College, abounded with bustling culinary students and bubbled with tantalizing aromas on November 6, as the students worked alongside Chef-in-Residence Sakuchol Cholup to prepare a dinner for 80  lucky guests.  Starting at 8:30 a.m., students working in shifts donned aprons and readied their ladles so the meal would be ready by 6 p.m. 


And what a meal it was!  The menu included crispy rice crackers with dried sweet pork/chili paste, coconut cream crab meat with vegetables, chicken in pandanus (a plant leaf) pocket, and boneless lamb loin with a curry sauce called massamun.cuisine

Chef Sakuchol Cholup traveled directly from Bangkok to teach students at NCC and several other colleges during a four-week stay in the United States.  A Sodexo head chef for five years, "Chef Oak" previously worked in some of the most luxurious hotels in Bangkok, including the Conrad and Grand Hyatt.  He specializes in fusion cuisine.

His visit to Northampton was made possible by the Robert C. Wood Chef-in-Residence program established by the Wood Company (now Sodexo Wood) in 2000 to give culinary students the opportunity to work side-by-side with chefs from some of the region's top restaurants.

Chef Oak explains the finer points to a studentThe event gives culinary students a unique opportunity to explore cuisines that may be new to them and to learn from renowned masters in the field.  The detail, care and time that go into creating these recipes are phenomenal. The massumun curried lamb alone takes two hours to make and incorporates coconut milk, massumun curry, leg of lamb, palm sugar, salt, fish sauce, and potato.  Phil Chaney, one of the students, said he appreciated working with such ingredients as lime leaves, lemongrass, oyster sauce, and a root vegetable called glangal. 

Proceeds from the Chef-in-Residence dinner benefits the Hotel, Restaurant and Culinary Arts Endowment Fund at NCC.

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