November 16, 2015
When Mexicans wake up in the morning, they don’t ask, “What are we going to do today?” Instead, they ask, “What are we going to eat today?” Food is at the heart of every Mexican family and is the epicentre of celebrations and festivities. Travellers can enjoy tamales and quesadillas in local restaurants, but if you’re a dedicated foodie, why not learn to make your favourite, authentic Mexican recipes at one of these fantastic cookery schools. Here’s a selection of the best cooking courses for Mexican food in Cancun and the Riviera Maya.
In her beautiful family home in Cancun, Chef Claudia, originally from Mexico City, teaches more than just cooking. During her twice-weekly classes (Wednesdays and Thursdays), budding chefs are taken on a gastronomic journey through the history and traditions of Mexican food in Cancun. The menu for each Can Cook In Cancun class is seasonal, embracing festivals such as Day of the Dead. You’ll learn how to prepare salsas using fresh ingredients, and dishes including chilaquiles, tamales and mole. The best part is enjoying everything you’ve cooked over a relaxed lunch on the garden terrace.
Follow the Ruta de los Cenotes into the jungle just south of Cancun to find the yellow and pink casita housing Mexico Lindo Cooking. Classes here take place from Monday to Friday, and you can choose from a calendar of themes including Yucatan delights, the best of Mexico, quesadillas, tamales and seafood. Many of the herbs and vegetables used in the classes are grown in the school’s organic garden. Mayan cooks will show you how to make handmade tortillas in the traditional kitchen and lunch is served on the terrace, where you can unwind with a tequila at the end of the day.
Opposite the beach in the small town of Puerto Morelos, The Little Mexican Cooking School is located in “˜Casa Caribe’, a hacienda-style B&B with lush gardens. Chef Salvador, from Puebla, teaches day courses from Tuesdays to Saturdays ranging from modern Mexican cuisine to Mayan recipes from the Yucatan. The focus here is on making cooking fun and the chef’s specialities include mole for vegetarians and fish tacos. The class concludes with a lunch of the dishes you helped to prepare. Casa Caribe also houses a kitchen shop where you can buy quirky items such as handmade cricket salt – dry-roasted crickets with lime and chillies, used to flavour savoury dishes.
Less than one hour south of Cancun is Playa Del Carmen, full of chic restaurants and shops. It is also home to chef Coty Villarreal’s modern culinary school, Co.Cos, which is one of the most popular cooking courses in the Riviera Maya. Open from Monday to Friday, the school caters to those who want to learn how to cook simple appetizers, to more ambitious chefs who sign up for the intensive two-week course. Dishes on the recipe list include chicken with green mole, fish and shrimps in achiote and grilled flank steak with salsa. On Friday evenings there is a light-hearted drinking school, where you can learn how to mix cocktails and find out more about tequila and mezcal.
Budding chefs looking for a destination cooking course should try learning how to prepare empanadas or chiles rellenos with local grandmother Abuelita Angelita in the intimate surroundings of her family kitchen. Angelita’s small classes of up to eight people provide a more personal experience than the larger cooking schools, and offer a glimpse of quiet island life on Isla Mujeres, a short ferry ride away from Cancun. Angelita teaches her classes on Mondays, Tuesday and Thursdays in Spanish with the help of a translator. Her authentic Mexican specialities, perfected over the years of cooking for her family, include mole from Oaxaca, frijol con puerco, chilaquiles and chiles en nogada.
Virgin Atlantic operates direct flights to Cancun from London Gatwick, bringing these cooking courses within easy reach.
Have you tried Mexican food in Cancun? Would you sign up for one of these cooking courses? Let us know in the comments section below.
Written by Catherine Gordon