Published on : Tuesday, April 18, 2017
Established as a way to share a passion for Vietnamese food with the world, the professional-grade Nam Hai Cooking Academy gives both experienced chefs and guests alike the opportunity to discover the secrets of Vietnamese cooking from some of the best in the business. Daily-changing themes – including a culinary excursion and ingredient picking at the onsite farm at Four Seasons Resort The Nam Hai, Hoi An – mean epicureans can join for a day or stay all week. There’s also a complimentary Junior Academy for kids.
Vietnamese food is renowned for its fresh ingredients and intricately balanced flavours and textures. It’s also one of the healthiest cuisines in the world: very little dairy or oil is used, allowing fragrant herbs and local vegetables to take centre stage. In keeping with the need for optimum freshness and fragrance, The Nam Hai Cooking Academy draws ingredients picked daily from its own onsite herb and vegetable farm, where a team of 10 full-time gardeners nurtures more than 35 seasonal varieties.
The Academy’s daily-changing themes span the length of the country, from Hanoi’s haute cuisine to Hoi An’s street food, traditional Imperial dishes to local favourites. Each day also features an interactive activity, informing the day’s menu: from a visit to TraQue vegetable village or the Fish Market village, to fresh noodle making or a paddy field experience.
“So much more than ‘nutrition,’ Vietnam’s culinary philosophy is uniquely woven into the very fabric of daily life,” shares Chef Tran Van Sen, who heads up the Academy. “It’s one of the reasons we have included a linked excursion to each day’s cooking theme, so that guests can really immerse themselves in every aspect of our cuisine’s culture.”
Born and raised in Khánh Hưng, Cà Mau, Chef Sen is somewhat of a culinary custodian: he’s traversed Vietnam, developing a deep understanding of each area’s culinary nuances to become a master in the replication of traditional dishes and the creation of new dishes rooted in regional subtleties.
Having guided participants through the day’s cooking, Chef Sen and his team join guests as they enjoy their edible masterpieces, family-style, around the communal table. Each participant also receives a branded apron, diploma, recipe selection, go-to ingredients glossary, local spices and seasonings.
Children are also able to develop a flair for flavours with the Junior Cooking Academy, a complimentary offering for Resort guests aged 5 to 12. It runs for an hour each day from 3:00 to 4:00 pm, teaching wannabe pros all the skills of rice paper rolling, cookie and biscuit baking, chocolate-making and much more.