Taste of Thai: June Williamson is bringing exotic Thai flavors to Utah Valley tables

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In addition to her kitchen at home, June Williamson stirs things up at Thanksgiving Point where she teaches cooking classes. On Nov. 8 she will be teaching “Thai Cooking for the Masses,” and on Dec. 13 she will be treating students to the secrets of “Thai Soups and Curries.” Visit thanksgivingpoint.org to register.  (Photo by Leah Aldous)

In addition to her kitchen at home, June Williamson stirs things up at Thanksgiving Point where she teaches cooking classes. On Nov. 8 she will be teaching “Thai Cooking for the Masses,” and on Dec. 13 she will be treating students to the secrets of “Thai Soups and Curries.” Visit thanksgivingpoint.org to register. (Photo by Leah Aldous)

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Foodie Fact

Want a bit more spice? Check out this Q&A with June Williamson.

Pantry MVPs

Fish sauce, coconut cream, curry paste

Cardinal sin of Thai food

Oily rice without any flavor

Most popular non-Thai dishes

My famous potato rolls or buttermilk sugar cookies with cream cheese frosting

Thai food in three words

Spicy, hot, sweet

Favorite Local Restaurant

Casa Salza in Spanish Fork. I love their chicken tacos with unique avocado salsa.

Best meal ever eaten

My Grandma Verburg took me freshwater fishing and we grilled our fresh catch right by the lake. Nothing has topped that!

Last meal on earth

I would love fresh grilled salmon served Laotian style with cilantro, mint, basil, bean sprouts and lettuce topped with spicy peanut sauce.

Trickiest style of cooking

I cannot grill! I always overcook my barbecue chicken.

Most difficult recipe made lately

Hazelnut soup

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Thai food can be intimidating to the home chef  — but June Williamson is hoping to change that. The Mapleton culinary instructor and cookbook author was born in Thailand and grew up learning to cook at her mother’s side.

“She would go out to the garden, grab whatever was ripe and throw it in the wok,” June says.

When June became a mom of four, she did the same thing. She didn’t use recipes or measure ingredients — the self-proclaimed “messy cook” let her taste buds be her guide.

June’s family and friends encouraged her to write her recipes down, so she put together a simple collection of dishes currently being made into a cookbook through Cedar Fort Press. The book is set for release in August 2015.

In addition to sharing recipes, June shares her love of Thai food with students at Thanksgiving Point.

“People are so scared of Thai cooking, but once you get your basic ingredients, it’s so easy,” June says. “It’s just dumping and pouring!”

June’s courses range from an introduction to Thai soups and curries to a class all about feeding the masses — a skill she has learned from cooking for her children’s soccer teams.

“A lot of these kids think they don’t like Thai food because they’ve never had it,” June says. “I help them get over that.”

While fish sauce and curry powder are June’s pantry staples, she’s learned how to cook southern with the best of ‘em. Her husband is from Alabama and grew up on fried chicken, not fried rice.

 “My husband is a total meat and potatoes guy,” June says. “He likes my food though, and my kids have all grown up on Thai food.”

 June equates food with freshness.

“Growing up in Thailand, we didn’t have access to a lot of refrigeration so we had to use what was available right then and not let it go to waste,” June says. “The benefit is that your food tastes better when it’s made with fresh ingredients.”

She pairs fresh with no-fuss.

“There is nothing worse than a complicated recipe that doesn’t work when you try it at home!” June says. “I’m a believer in adapting recipes to whatever helps you get it on the table.”

Check out June’s adaptable recipes at happythaigirl.com.

Get June’s Red Thai Curry recipe here.

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Kate Lehnhof Nash first joined Bennett Communications as a summer intern in 2009. Now, as an associate editor, she writes for magazines including Utah Valley Magazine, Utah Valley Bride and Prosper. Kate lives in Springville with her husband Steve and enjoys running, reading, sushi and her french bulldog, Chief.

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