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State College’s Janejira’s Kitchen Offering Online Thai Cuisine Classes

If you’re bored at home or in your apartment, State College’s Janejira’s Kitchen might be able to help by offering online cooking classes about Thai culture and cuisine.

Janejira Kalsmith was born in Thailand and grew up in a family restaurant in Chicago that was famous for the Isan region cuisine. About a year and a half ago, she was invited by RE Farm Cafe to teach a cooking class. She was reluctant at first but eventually agreed to teach the class. Quickly, she fell in love with it and decided to go off and continue.

“I am very passionate about teaching, and I am also a designer, so I get to mesh the two passions together,” Kalsmith said.

Now, she runs her own online business, Janejira’s Kitchen, where she teaches people about Thai cuisine, in addition to some Italian dishes. Classes range from Thai chicken basil, tom yum koong, tom kha gai, eggplant parmigiana, and Thai country shrimp salad.

“I like teaching and empowering people about Thai cuisine culture, and the difference between the authentic version versus what is available in the U.S.,” Kalsmith said.

All classes are currently online. The classes are live, but Kalsmith is also working on pre-recorded lessons for recipes that require more than one hour. Live classes take about an hour.

“Usually, the classes run in about an hour because I give the background of the dish,” Kalsmith explained. “An easy recipe may take less than 40 minutes.”

Participants in State College have the option to buy each class’s meal kit, which includes the ingredients needed for the specific class. Out-of-state participants can register for the class online and shop for ingredients at their local grocery store.

“In my meal kit, I choose to support small businesses and farmers,” Kalsmith said. “I try to buy their products, and I grow my own exotic herbs at home, too. This is another thing I am also introducing to State College — the exotic herbs in our cuisine. Once you’ve tried Makrut lime leaves, you’re hooked for life.”

The content of the meal kit depends on the recipe. The ingredients range from rice to exotic herbs and seasoning. The idea behind the kit is to save participants time, avoid frustration, and support local farmers.

“You can spend a lot of time shopping and many people might not be familiar with Asian market shopping,” Kalsmith said. “Some of the dishes in Thai cuisine have a lot of ingredients. In soups, for example, there are about 12 different ingredients.”

Participants that want to become more familiar with shopping in Asian markets can take a class called “Curry in a Hurry” that includes an optional field trip. They meet at the East Asian Market the day before class, and Kalsmith walks through the market, giving participants the opportunity to ask questions about the ingredients.

The classes range from two to seven people. Kalsmith wants to keep the classes small and intimate, so participants have the opportunity to interact with each other.

“I like to keep the classes small because I discovered that when the classes are larger, people are reluctant to ask me to slow down or they are too shy to ask questions,” Kalsmith said. “I have regulars that are getting to know each other (virtually), and they are more comfortable with one another. In the future, I might up that number.”

Most folks are in their mid-thirties and above. Younger audiences tend to cook with their parents, and her youngest participant was 8 years old.

“I had an 8-year-old, a 10-year-old, and two teenagers, and their parents were either school teachers or faculty members,” Kalsmith said. “My classes are designed for single participants, but I always encourage them to invite a loved one — especially the little ones. I learned to cook at a very young age, and I think cooking together is a lot of fun.”

Participants of the class get a digital copy of hand-illustrated, personalized recipe cards. Each recipe is one spirit point, and by collecting spirit points, participants gain rewards. With nine spirit points, for example, the participant receives a private lesson. With 12 spirit points, the participant receives a free class of their choice.

Kalsmith also wants students to take the opportunity to take the classes to connect with their parents when they go home over break.

“It would be nice for students to tell their parents about it,” Kalsmith said. “That way, when they return home to their parents, they can spend a quality evening together and cook up a delicious authentic Thai/Italian meal.”

To learn more about Janejira’s Kitchen, check out her website.

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About the Author

Renata Daou

Renata is a sophomore majoring in International Politics and one of Onward State's contributors. She's from Manaus, Amazonas, Brazil and no, she doesn't live in the middle of the Amazon forest. She likes learning new languages, reading, writing, and talking about the one time she went bungee jumping.
Follow her on Twitter @renatadaou to see her rant in Portenglish

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