I first met Catriona Brown, the owner of the Little Mexican Cooking School, during her first trip to the Riviera Maya over 10 years ago. She is a smart, creative, Renaissance woman who surprises me at every turn. For years I have been saying that I would come by and participate in one of her cooking classes. ‘Anytime, Kay’ is the response I would get but I failed to book the time year after year.
At the end of 2014 I made the call and committed myself and a girlfriend to a class just before Christmas. Finally. I was going to witness, first hand, one of the Little Mexican School cooking classes that 96% of Tripadvisor reviewers say is excellent. Read the reviews here.
Cat has built a one day event that takes students through a cultural culinary history of the Maya and Mexican cooking. Her chef and teacher, Chef Salvador Fernandez, is full of valuable information that he is passionate to share. The minute the class started I knew I was experiencing something special and exclusive.
Chef Fernandez easily transitioned between cooking techniques, culinary history and cultural facts. He showed the undeniable connection between Mexican food, Mexican history and the Maya culture. Cooking led to discussions of economies, archeology, folklore and sociology. No one felt they were in a history class, nor did they feel overwhelmed by the information. What happened is that students began to understand the intimate connection between food and culture as we continued to cook, eat, experience, and explore.
UNESCO declared Mexican culinary traditions a historical asset under their list of ‘Intangible Traditions’. Unlike historical sites or locations, like Chichen Itza or the Sian Ka’an Biosphere, UNESCO developed a list of intangible traditions that preserved and recognized practices and expressions that help demonstrate the diversity and importance of a countries heritage. This new category would keep cultural traditions alive. Mariachis and the Dance of the Voladores are two other cultural traditions that Mexico proudly protects under the UNESCO umbrella. Mexican food, recipes and preparation methods also falls under the intangible traditions.
There are 7 different menus offered at the Little Mexican Cooking School. We chose a traditional Central Mexican Meal and all the history that comes along with that. Sopes with homemade salsa and pickled red onions were our appetizers. Stuffed beef rolls, mushroom soup, beans and rice was our main dish (vegetarians were accommodated). Dessert consisted of a beautiful mango pudding topped with fresh fruit. All of these items were made from scratch, and each ingredients historical and flavor significance explained. Chef Fernandez also used traditional cooking utensils to authenticate the cooking process.
The class is interactive so all of us felt a bond by the end of the day. A few class mates who were staying in the Riviera Maya over the holidays so kept in touch so that we could exchange restaurant and trip planning suggestions. As a seasoned Riviera Maya local, I have to say, this was an experience that went above and beyond my expectations. Clearly visitors feel the same way. The Little Mexican Cooking School has a solid rating on vacation and travel websites.
Classes run Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday throughout the year. It is recommended that you book in advance to get the dates that best suit your vacation. Vegetarians, Vegans and people with food allergies are accommodated in each class if you let Catriona know at the time of booking. Review the schedule and book a class here
To get to Puerto Morelos you can rent a car, take public transportation or a taxi. The Little Mexican Cooking School is located one block off the beach in the northern heart of the village.
Curious about Puerto Morelos and what else this little fishing village has to offer? Check out our overview of Puerto Morelos and find unique Loco Gringo vacation rentals.