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Thai is Fun Gets Virtual

Goi Yujaroen serves up Thai cooking lessons with a side of celebration.

Have you wanted to learn to cook authentic Thai food? How about learning while hanging out with friends and family? With Thai Is Fun, local entrepreneur Korrutai “Goi” Yujaroen has the ingredients for a perfect evening.

Based in Seaside, CA, Thai Is Fun offers authentic Thai cooking classes to parties, groups and individuals. After years of teaching others to enjoy the language, culture and food of her native country, Goi’s goal is to share her knowledge of cooking in a fun, social atmosphere. On her recently launched website, Goi also offers private cooking lessons, in addition to Thai language lessons.

“I teach Thai cooking class in my kitchen as well as traveling to customers’ houses within a 30 mile radius,” she said. “It’s supposed to be fun. So we make it party-like, and teach people how to cook. Maybe people bring their date, or for a surprise birthday party, family reunion, or company retreat. They just come and we create a party while learning how to cook yummy and healthy Thai food.”

At Thai Is Fun events, Goi’s guests learn to cook two authentic Thai dishes using fresh, delicious ingredients. 

“The Thai Is Fun slogan is ‘Our Thai food, In your home kitchen.’ We make the experience as authentic as possible,” said Goi. “Since we do not live in a tropical country, some of the ingredients are imported or shipped from Mexico, South America or Asia. So you will learn to cook yummy and healthy Thai food using the available traditional, local ingredients or substitute fresh ingredients. 

Goi’s teaching experience spans across states and continents. After teaching Thai at international schools in Thailand for over a decade, Goi moved to Portland, Oregon in 2006. She founded Thai Is Fun two years later, teaching Thai language and cooking classes at Portland Community College, community centers and Whole Foods Markets, in addition to one-on-one lessons. 

Her initial plan was to gain experience teaching Thai while she applied to teach at a college level. After accepting a job teaching Thai at the Defense Language Institute Foreign Language Center’s Thai department, Goi relocated to Monterey. When Institute disbanded their Thai program in 2015, she got back to business with Thai Is Fun.

According to Goi, her business did well initially but really took off during the pandemic. 

“During the pandemic a lot of customers came to Thai cooking classes,” she said. “I think that part of it was because people stayed at home and they wanted to cook different things and they love Thai food. And so that’s how I had a lot of customers come to class.”

As her business grew, Goi knew  it was time to upgrade her online presence. Searching for help, she learned about Cal State Monterey Bay’s (CSUMB) GetVirtual from the City of Seaside’s online newsletter.

“I wanted to update my website to make it more appealing or attractive,” she said. “I had wanted to have a more professional website for my Thai Is Fun for a long time. So I reached out to GetVirtual and started to work with the team and a student at CSUMB. And the whole process was wonderful.”

GetVirtual is a project to help businesses survive and thrive during the COVID pandemic. The project pairs business owners with student volunteers who work to develop the business’s online presence, including websites, social media, e-commerce, search engine optimization, among other online services. GetVirtual’s services are free to client businesses lacking the ability or means to build their online presence. 

California State University at Monterey Bay has partnered with GetVirtual to help local businesses. Other partners include UC Santa Cruz, the Santa Cruz Business Council and Santa Cruz Economic Development. Dan Ripke, iiED Director of Economic Development, Funding and Grants, serves as CSUMB GetVirtual’s staff lead. 

“Dan assigned a student to meet with me and then follow up about what we want to do,” said Goi. “I gave them information and pictures and we went back and forth. The process is about a few months, but I’m really happy that finally Dan and his last team finished it. We launched it a few weeks ago and I have been having a lot of customers contact me through the website.”

After the pandemic began, Goi taught classes online, but now is back to throwing in-person events. She is currently focusing on building a local following, as the majority of her customers are travelers passing through Monterey.

“Most of my customers are tourists or travelers,” she said. “Since we published the new website, I have had people contact me through the new website and it brings more business. They try to find an activity in town while they are here. So most of my clients are people from outside. I want people here to know what I’m doing here. I want to offer something more for the locals.”

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