The glorious city of Bangkok welcomes visitors to Thailand with sights, sounds and smells unique to this energetic metropolis. King Rama I made Bangkok his capital in the 18th century and commissioned the Grand Palace, a landmark compound of royal residences and sacred temples with shimmering spires. But for a food lover, the first stop must be the Aw Taw Kaw market, one of the most exciting food markets in the world. Serious cooks shop here for their tropical fruits and the finest seafood, while serious eaters come for dumplings and fiery curries. Our guide to the Thai kitchen is chef Khun McDang, a Culinary Institute of America graduate and now host—with his father—of the most popular television food show in Thailand. During a visit to the Culinary Institute campus in Napa Valley, chef McDang prepared several Thai specialties, offering us a rare chance to learn from an expert.

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