Marc Meyer, the New York City–based chef behind Cookshop and the just-opened Rosie’s, is so dedicated to muay thai boxing, he traveled to Lampang, Thailand, for an intensive, weeklong training camp. As luck would have it, his instructor’s wife ran a local food stall in the northwestern city. “I trained with him in the morning,” Meyer says, “and after class she taught me how to cook traditional Thai meals.”

Illustrations by Sam Kerr

Unknown-1ROLL WITH THE PUNCHES

Muay thai, the national sport of Thailand, is often called the art of the eight limbs because it involves striking with your hands, elbows, knees, and feet. After 12 years studying the sport I wanted to deepen my practice in the place where it originated. I went to train with Pinsinchai Burklerk, a master fighter at Muay Thai Gym Burklerk (130 Soi 1). Some days, I’d shadowbox against myself in a mirror. Other days I would spar with former or current fighters. I never knew which it would be, but they were always locals. There were days when I even practiced next to 10-year-olds with their dads.”

THE DAY TRIPS

“My trainer took me to Chiang Mai, which is an hour’s drive from Lampang, for an evening, and we had dinner with a famous boxing promoter. To impress him, we went through a two-hour ritual of opening and drinking an Australian Bordeaux-style wine. The whole thing was straight out of a movie. I spent one day in Bangkok, too. The city’s 18th-century Grand Palace (Na Phra Lan Road) is filled with the most amazingly ornate tile and jade work. In Bangkok, I booked a 90-minute boat tour along the Chao Phraya River. Next to billboards in English for shopping malls, you’d spot the most beautiful temples.”

Photo by Martin Westlake

Photo by Martin Westlake

REAL THAI FOOD

“Thai people are passionate about eggs. Cooks turn them into frittatas, fry them in woks, and, most popularly, preserve them for a pungent kick. My trainer’s wife, Mrs. Pook, ran a stand at the Lampang night market (along Ratsada Road). I would go with her to shop for such ingredients as grated coconut, lemongrass, and galangal, a type of ginger. Later, I watched Mrs. Pook cook everything at her stand (which is the first on the left, as you walk in). She used only a simple propane stove, but her shrimp soups and red curries were more clean, intense, and complex than any of the Thai food we eat in America.”

Plan your trip to Thailand here.

This appeared in the January/February 2015 issue.