Chef and cooking instructor Jam Sanitchat tends not to over-extol the virtues of her native Thai cuisine. “I’m from Thailand, so what else would I think?” she says. “But, really, this food has all the flavors in the world—creamy, salty, sweet, spicy, sour…all in one meal.”
Until recently, you could only have Jam’s version if you bought her prepared dishes at the Sunset Valley Farmers’ Market or hired her to teach a cooking class at her home or yours.
But because both options proved so popular, she recently opened Thai Fresh in the South Austin space once occupied by Moxie and the Compound.
For the too-frazzled-to-cook commuter, Jam prepares up to 12 take-home offerings daily. The menu varies, she says, but always includes at least one noodle and one stir-fry dish. If you can’t resist digging into your to-go package before getting back in the car, you’re welcome to eat at the store.
Fair warning, though—once you’ve tasted Jam’s passion, you may want to learn her secrets. Sign up for a cooking class taught around her commercial kitchen prep table, then stick around for the best part: eating the fruits of your labor.
“One class is all Thai favorites: sticky rice, pad thai, coconut soup and panang curries,” she says. “I do vegetarian, street food and one called ‘My Mom’s Favorites,’ because I learned from her and my grandmother, who forced me to sit down and cook with her even before I started first grade.”
Jam hopes her mother will teach a master class this fall when she comes to visit Leo, Jam’s two-year-old son. “He already has the taste,” Jam says of Leo’s love of food—even the fiery variety. “ ‘Spicy’ was his first word.”
All the elements of spice are available at Thai Fresh, along with staples such as frozen, all-natural meats, fish sauce, curry paste, Thai tea in gallon jars and bulk bins of the many types of rice that Thai cooking demands. And the produce section is full of Thai vegetables and herbs, many of which do well in Austin’s heat.
“Thai basil, eggplant, galangal and lemon grass…even Kaffir lime trees,” Jam lists, “and I try to get them from local growers, because I like it when the money goes back into the soil.”
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