Thai curry is beautifully aromatic and fragrant, big in flavor and incredibly delicious – but I never knew how easy this amazing, savory, stew-like dish was to make until I stepped into The Kitchen at Baha Mar with Chef Michael Davis.
Davis took me through the easy steps to create this wonderful one-pot dish that is going to become a part of my repertoire going forward.
The Kitchen at Baha Mar is a concept that was created to bring families, food and fun together.
In The Kitchen, Chef Mike brings the vibrant flavors and colorful spirit of island cuisine to foodies of all ages from as young as age three. You get to experience fun and unique baking and cooking challenges, farm-to-table education sessions, special teen competitions, as well as cook-and-dine activities designed to bring the whole family together.
From workshops on local Caribbean delicacies to master classes with world-renowned chefs, The Kitchen offers a culinary experience like no other.
When I stepped into The Kitchen during the week of love, Chef Mike’s weekly menus featured everything from fresh-baked cinnamon French toast bun with a guava glazed sauce and an open-faced frittata; to a stuffed chicken breast served with red skin potatoes, baby carrots, string beans and arugula; or a stuffed salmon served with red skin potatoes, baby carrots, string beans, arugula and strawberries with goat cheese balsamic vinaigrette reduction; to a lamb scottadito with charred cherry tomatoes and haricot verts and served with garlic butter mashed potatoes; beef Wellington tarts with haricot verts; legendary coq au vin chicken in red wine sauce with string beans and fingerling potatoes; and an apple cider pulled pork with apple cabbage slaw. And those were just a portion of the menus offered that week.
Funny face pizza, cupcake decorating and red velvet cupcake baking were offered for the tiny chef which caters to children ages three to seven years old; or the junior chef menus for children seven to 12 years old – and which featured crispy chicken and Belgian waffles, chicken cordon bleu with mashed potatoes and gravy and string beans, chocolate lava cake and an ultimate chocolate cake.
The menus offered were tempting, but I wanted to challenge myself in The Kitchen, and opted for an off-the-menu customization experience and the opportunity to delve into cuisine from one of my all-time favorite foods – Asian. I was thinking…maybe a Korean bibimbap, or a Vietnamese pho or banh mi.
I left the final decision up to Chef Mike to determine which Asian cuisine we would explore. He decided on Thai curry with coconut rice and I wasn’t disappointed – I love Thai curry! I had just never prepared it myself.
Chef Mike offered a preference in protein – shrimp, chicken or beef for my Thai curry. I opted for a combination of proteins.
Under Chef Mike’s eagle eyes, which included him overseeing a thorough handwashing, I proceeded to get everything mise en place (preparing and organizing ingredients to maximize a recipe’s efficiency) before the cooking actually began – peeling, chopping and slicing the vegetables and fruit needed. Believe you me, in The Kitchen you’re not just throwing pre-prepared ingredients together to finish a dish; you’ve got to slice, dice and chop and cook a meal in the allotted two hours.
I added onions, garlic, green and red bell peppers, eggplant potatoes and string beans to the pan, to which we added a choice of a spicy red Thai curry paste or the somewhat sweet yellow Thai curry paste. I opted for a mix of both the red and the yellow and allowed the mixture to cook a few minutes before adding coconut milk and stock (water can also be used), and of course salt and pepper which are a given, then allowed the mixture to come to a gentle boil and the flavors to meld.
The chef encouraged tasting along the way to ensure the heat level was to my liking and the seasoning was spot on. The dish had the hint of spice that I love. I couldn’t help but nab two quick tastes. It was that good, and wasn’t even fully cooked yet.
As the curry simmered, we placed Thai rice into a pot with water, brought it to a boil, added coconut milk, then turned the flame down to allow the rice to cook.
While I cooked, I noticed a Baha Mar associate enter the kitchen to see what was going on. She said she couldn’t help herself and followed the delicious smells wafting on the breeze from The Kitchen as she passed. She said she just had to take a peek to see what was cooking.
At one point I had occasion to leave the kitchen and re-enter the space, and was able to get an idea of what she was talking about. The smells were intoxicating.
Cooking Thai curry with Chef Mike made me realize how easy a dish this is to prepare and that I don’t have to wait to travel to enjoy a delicious Thai curry. I knew this dish would be going into my arsenal of recipes.
But the true test was in the taste.
Chef Mike demonstrated plating the Thai sticky rice with the Thai curry and slices of mango and we sat down to eat. The hearty, comforting dish had its heat tempered with fresh mango slices, instead of chutney, and it worked.
To say that my Thai curry was delicious was an understatement. I had made it myself and it was simply fantastic.
In The Kitchen, Chef Mike caters to youngsters ages three to seven that want to have a fun and sweet experience while creating tasty treats and easy dishes. And he’s found that baking has been the most popular discipline within this group.
The junior chef category caters to seven to 12-year-olds who are able to explore their culinary creativity and skills in fun challenges and competitions.
The family adventures in The Kitchen are a fun activity for the whole family and can bring generations together over a delicious meal.
The Kitchen has 16 designated cooking stations, and for group and team building activities they are able to accommodate up to 30 people, which Baha Mar officials say is not only for children and families, but can be a great corporate team building experience, birthday party, or girls’ night out. And all experiences can be customized with the chef to create the best possible event for everyone involved.
Baha Mar officials say the addition of The Kitchen adds an interactive component to the dining experiences at the resort. And that as food and sharing meals are such a big part of everyday life, that The Kitchen is a great way for people to get together, celebrate and explore cultural treasures in a universal way. They say that families build traditions around meals, and creating something delicious and savoring it together is a special occasion that can create memories that last a lifetime.
The two-hour experiences are $55 for Tiny Chef; $65 for Jr. Chef; $65 per person for Family Adventures; and group and team events upon request. Every kitchen class includes water and soft drinks; wine and alcohol can be ordered upon request.
Shavaughn was appointed as the Lifestyles Editor a few years later.