Culinary Yucatan

There is Mexico, and then there is Yucatán. The region and the country share much, yet their histories diverge at many points. Yucatán is the land of the Mayas, Mexico’s second largest extant indigenous group. The food is also different, characterized by the famous habanero, one of the world’s hottest chiles, and has much in common with Caribbean and European cuisine, making it an ideal spot for a unique culinary vacation in Mexico. Pit-smoked meats, plantains, Dutch cheeses, Portuguese sausages and Lebanese specialties are some of the typical foods of the region, a surprise to those expecting traditional Mexican! Culturally, the region has its own music, dance and literature, and of course, the Maya archaeological sites known throughout the world.

The capital city Mérida was once home to the world’s largest per capita population of millionaires. It is now experiencing a resurgence, attracting travelers from all over the globe who are discovering its many charms.

In such a setting is a cooking school devoted to 100% comida yucateca.


Latest Review

No rating given with this review
My wife and I, as did our two daughters and their husbands....could not have enjoyed the Hacienda any more that we did. The rooms are very spacious and comfortable, with a large bathroom and a spacious and comfortable patio equipped with an outdoor Jacuzzi...the grounds are beautiful, all full of tropical flowers and plants. David accompanied and we thoroughly enjoyed his company. The cooking classes at Los Dos were very well handled and the. The beautifulcourtyard and “dipping” pool at his house adds a special touch. The booklet David provided us in connection with the cooking was so well organized with the menus and the recipes, which you would expect,but it also had useful information on Yucatecan ingredients, terminology and more. Our driver/tour guide for our day-time tours and for the evening trips to the restaurants was very knowledgeable, polite and friendly. He had a great enthusiasm for Yucatan and its history and people, and it showed in his presentations to us. He really opened our eyes to the land and its uniqueness. All in all, a great trip. This one was more or less to mark the milestone of my wife’s 60th. She really cherished the experience, both from the viewpoint of the activities and exploration, but especially, for the chance to share these experiences with our daughters and their husbands. Finally, thanks to you, Robyn, for all your arrangements of details. As they say, sometimes it’s in the details where the devil resides, but none of that with this trip. All worked out well. Sincerely, John H. (CA)

Trip Details

Founded by the late Chef David Sterling, a New York transplant and long-time resident of Mexico, the cooking school has for over a decade been dedicated to understanding and teaching Yucatecan cuisine. After Chef David’s death in late 2016 the school was taken up by his team, and in particular Chef Mario, who was his right-hand man for 12 years. He will be your chef and guide during your stay. Chef Mario was an integral part of the Chef David’s James Beard Award-winning ‘Best Cookbook of the Year’ in 2015. The cooking school has been featured in numerous publications such as Travel and Leisure, The New York Times, Elle Mexico, Condé-Nast Traveler, and has been included in Rick Bayless’s television program, “Mexico: One Plate at a Time’ as well as with Martha Stewart on her popular show.
Your 3 cooking classes are not just food preparation, but an education into the ingredients and traditions that comprise Yucatecan cuisine.


We Can Help Plan It All

Flights, additional nights and tours, Transportation, and Much More

We might not be able to pack for you, but there are tons of things we can help with to make your vacation that much better.

Contact us for more information, or you can indicate your interest during check out and we will follow up directly!

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Itinerary

Day One

  • Arrival at Mérida International Airport.
  • Transfer to your boutique hotel.
  • Time to relax, with dinner on your own.
  • Overnight.

Hacienda Merida Double


Day Two

  • Continental breakfast at your hotel.
  • In the morning, Chef Mario will greet you at the cooking school and invite you into his kitchen, where he will present an overview of Yucatán’s unique ingredients and culinary heritage.
  • Stroll with him through the sprawling and colorful central market where you will see piles of recados, seasoning blends similar to the curries that are a unique feature of Yucatecan cuisine.
  • Lunch in a local restaurant that features the finest regional cuisine. Chef Mario’s team will help you navigate the menu as you sample several Yucatecan specialties.
  • Return to the hotel in the late afternoon with a budding understanding of the complex flavors of the Yucatan.
  • Dinner tonight at a local restaurant.
  • Overnight.

Dining room in Mexico


Day Three

  • Breakfast.
  • To help you get your bearings, in the morning take a specially-guided tour of this magnificent colonial city. Stroll around Plaza Principal and tour the Cathedral, the oldest in the American mainland.
  • Arrive at the cooking school, where you will meet local Mayan women who will instruct you in the art of making tortillas by hand; afterwards, snack on your creations.
  • Your first cooking class to follow. Possible dishes include sopa de lima, pollo asado, tamales de x’pelón, and crema de cilantro.
  • Mid afternoon, you will be seated in the colorful dining room for lunch, also known as the “comida fuerte,” main meal of the day (wine/beer included).
  • Return to the hotel; evening at leisure and overnight.

Mexico Vacations Izamal


Day Four

  • Following breakfast, excursion to the charming colonial city of Izamál.
  • Tour the monastery and church of Izamál, built atop the base of an ancient Maya pyramid. Afterward you will enjoy a caleza (horse and buggy) ride through town, past several large intact pyramids that remain of the ancient city.
  • In the early afternoon, visit restaurant Kinich Kak-moo, located at the foot of a looming pyramid. Here you will enjoy a typical Yucatecan feast for lunch, observing the local women prepare the meal.
  • Return to the hotel with some time to relax.
  • In the evening, depart for dinner at a popular Merida restaurant.
  • Return to hotel and overnight.

Mexico Vacations Merida


Day Five

  • Breakfast.
  • Depart for an excursion to Hacienda Vista Alegre, a restored 17th-century hacienda, whose current inhabitants operate a distillery on the grounds that produces the famous Yucatecan honey/anise liqueur Xtabentun, as well as a variety of incredible rums. You can also enjoy a small botanical garden and orchard where grow many typical and unusual varieties unique to Yucatán, such as “chico zapote” — the famous chewing gum tree!
  • Transfer to the school for another session of cooking instruction to be followed by the comida fuerte.
  • After class, return to the hotel; evening on your own.
  • Overnight.

Mexico Vacations Uxmal


Day Six

  • Breakfast.
  • Today is a romantic and exotic excursion into the heart of Maya Yucatán. First, we drive to Uxmal — considered the most beautiful of the Maya archaeological zones and inspiration to Frank Lloyd Wright.
  • After your guided tour of Uxmal, stop at the tiny pueblo of Santa Elena, where you will visit a Maya family living as the Mayas have lived for the past century.
  • On the way back to Mérida, stop at the five-star Hacienda Temozon, one of the Luxury Collection owned by Starwood. The setting is magnificent and you will enjoy the beautiful presentation and updated classics of Yucatecan fare for lunch.
  • Transfer back to the hotel with some time to relax.
  • In the evening, depart for a farewell dinner at a local restaurant that offers the best in regional fusion cuisine.
  • Overnight.

Day Seven

  • Breakfast followed by check out.
  • Transfer to Mérida International Airport. Adios!

Day One

  • Arrival at Mérida International Airport.
  • Transfer to your boutique hotel.
  • Time to relax, with dinner on your own.
  • Overnight.

Merida Mexico


Day Two

  • Continental breakfast at your hotel.
  • In the morning, Chef Mario will greet you at the cooking school and invite you into his kitchen, where he will present an overview of Yucatán’s unique ingredients and culinary heritage.
  • Stroll with him through the sprawling and colorful central market where you will see piles of recados, seasoning blends similar to the curries that are a unique feature of Yucatecan cuisine.
  • Lunch in a local restaurant that features the finest regional cuisine. Chef Mario’s team will help you navigate the menu as you sample several Yucatecan specialties.
  • Return to the hotel in the late afternoon with a budding understanding of the complex flavors of the Yucatan.
  • Dinner at a local restaurant.
  • Overnight.

Yucatecan dish


Day Three

  • Breakfast.
  • Transfer to the cooking school, where you will spend the day with Chef Mario. You will work with local ingredients to create a full meal, from snacks and a first course, to soup, a main dish, and dessert.
  • Lunch will be late, but if you want dinner, it will be on your own.
  • Overnight.

Uxmal Mexico


Day Four

  • Breakfast.
  • Today is an exotic excursion into the heart of Mayan Yucatán. First sop is Uxmal — considered one of the most beautiful of the Mayan archaeological zones and an inspiration to Frank Lloyd Wright.
  • Stop at the tiny pueblo of Santa Elena, where you will visit a Mayan family living as the Mayas have lived for the past century.
  • On the way back to Mérida, stop at the five-star Hacienda Temozon, one of the Luxury Collection owned by Starwood. The setting is magnificent and you will enjoy the beautiful presentation and updated classics of Yucatecan fare for lunch.
  • Transfer back to the hotel with some time to relax.
  • In the evening, depart for a farewell dinner at a local restaurant that offers the best in regional fusion cuisine.
  • Overnight.

Day Five

  • Breakfast followed by check out.
  • Transfer to Mérida International Airport. Adios!

Trip Details

Included in the 6-Night Trip

Accommodations

6 nights standard double at the 5* Casona 61 Boutique Hotel (or similar)

Food & Beverages

  • Daily breakfast
  • 5 lunches
  • 3 dinners
  • Wine/beer with meals at the cooking school (and 1 alcoholic beverages at meals out)

Classes & Instructors

Founded by the late Chef David Sterling, a New York transplant and long-time resident of Mexico, the cooking school has for over a decade been dedicated to understanding and teaching Yucatecan cuisine. After Chef David’s death in late 2016 the school was taken up by his team, and in particular Chef Mario, who was his right-hand man for 12 years. He will be your chef and guide during your stay. Chef Mario was an integral part of the Chef David’s James Beard Award-winning ‘Best Cookbook of the Year’ in 2015. The cooking school has been featured in numerous publications such as Travel and Leisure, The New York Times, Elle Mexico, Condé-Nast Traveler, and has been included in Rick Bayless’s television program, “Mexico: One Plate at a Time’ as well as with Martha Stewart on her popular show.
Your 3 cooking classes are not just food preparation, but an education into the ingredients and traditions that comprise Yucatecan cuisine.

Excursions

  • Merida market visit with chef Mario to learn about Yucatecan ingredients
  • Tour of the colonial city of Merida
  • Excursion to Izamál, including the monastery
  • Visit to the Hacienda Vista Alegre distillery
  • Excursion to Uxmal’s archeological zone and to the pueblo of Santa Elena

Transfer Details

  • Round trip transfers from/to Mèrida airport

Miscellaneous

  • Drinks (beer/wine) are included with all your meals at the cooking school. For other meals, one alcoholic beverage per person is included, additional beverages are available for purchase.

Included in the 4-Night Trip

Accommodations

4 nights standard double at the 5* Casona 61 Boutique Hotel (or similar)

Food & Beverages

  • Daily breakfst
  • 3 lunches
  • 2 dinners
  • Wine/beer with meals at the cooking school (and 1 alcoholic beverages at meals out)

Classes & Instructors

Founded by the late Chef David Sterling, a New York transplant and long-time resident of Mexico, the cooking school has for over a decade been dedicated to understanding and teaching Yucatecan cuisine. After Chef David’s death in late 2016 the school was taken up by his team, and in particular Chef Mario, who was his right-hand man for 12 years. He will be your chef and guide during your stay. Chef Mario was an integral part of the Chef David’s James Beard Award-winning ‘Best Cookbook of the Year’ in 2015. The cooking school has been featured in numerous publications such as Travel and Leisure, The New York Times, Elle Mexico, Condé-Nast Traveler, and has been included in Rick Bayless’s television program, “Mexico: One Plate at a Time’ as well as with Martha Stewart on her popular show.
You will have 1 in-depth cooking session, as well as an education into the ingredients and traditions that comprise Yucatecan cuisine.

Excursions

  • Merida market visit with chef Mario to learn about Yucatecan ingredients
  • Excursion to Uxmal’s archeological zone and to the pueblo of Santa Elena

Transfer Details

  • Round trip transfers from/to Mèrida airport

Miscellaneous

  • Drinks (beer/wine) are included with all your meals at the cooking school. For other meals, one alcoholic beverage per person is included, additional beverages are available for purchase.

Accommodation Information

The Casona 61 Boutique Hotel by Koox is a boutique 5* hotel in Merida, the perect place to discover the charm of the city’s historic center. The 18 standard rooms are fully equipped with balcony or terrace, free WiFi, en suite bathroom with shower and hairdryer, air conditioning, satellite TV, safe, coffee maker, and minibar. There is an outdoor swimming pool, solarium, sitting room, library, and garden.

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There is also the option to upgrade to the 5* Hacienda Xcanatun Boutique Suite Hotel. This is a beautiful hacienda transformed into a small luxury hotel of 18 individually decorated suites. The hotel may not be suitable for children (please inquire). There are no TVs in the suites, it is a place to ‘unplug’ and enjoy the relaxation of Merida! Each suite has a large sitting room furnished with antiques, large bedroom with king sized bed, large bathroom with bathtub, private veranda, air conditioning, overhead fans, mini bar, safe deposit box, and hairdryer.

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Pricing & Tour Dates

Looking for tour date information?


Year-Round Pricing:

6-night Program
US$3250 per person based on double occupancy
  • Add US$415 for single occupancy (use of a double room by 1 person)
  • Add US$425 per person to upgrade to Boutique Luxury Hotel

Tour Dates

Avaialble the following dates for a minimum of 1 person. Other start dates also possible, please inquire.

2019
February 3-9
February 10-16
February 17-23
February 24-March 2
March 3-9
March 10-16
March 17-23
March 24-30
March 31-April 6
April 7-13
April 14-20
April 21-27
April 28-May 4
May 5-11
May 12-18
May 19-25
May 26-June 1
June 2-8
June 9-15
June 16-22
June 23-29
June 30-July 6
July 7-13
July 14-20
July 21-27
July 28-August 3
August 4-10
August 11-17
August 18-24
August 25-31
September 1-7
September 8-14
September 15-21
September 22-28
September 29-October 5
October 6-12
October 13-19
October 20-26
October 27-November 2
November 3-9
November 10-16
November 17-23
November 24-30
December 1-7
December 8-14
December 15-21
December 22-28

Looking for tour date information?


Year-Round Pricing:

4-night Program
US$2350 per person based on double occupancy
  • Add US$415 for single occupancy (use of a double room by 1 person)
  • Add US$400 per person to upgrade to Boutique Luxury Hotel

Tour Dates

Avaialble the following dates for a minimum of 1 person. Other start dates also possible, please inquire.

2019
February 3-7
February 10-14
February 17-21
February 24-28
March 3-7
March 10-14
March 17-21
March 24-28
March 31-April 4
April 7-11
April 14-18
April 21-25
April 28-May 2
May 5-9
May 12-16
May 19-23
May 26-30
June 2-6
June 9-13
June 16-20
June 23-27
June 30-July 4
July 7-11
July 14-18
July 21-25
July 28-August 1
August 4-8
August 11-15
August 18-22
August 25-29
September 1-5
September 8-12
September 15-19
September 22-26
September 29-October 3
October 6-10
October 13-17
October 20-24
October 27-31
November 3-7
November 10-14
November 17-21
November 24-28
December 1-5
December 8-12
December 15-19
December 22-26

Pricing & Dates

Class Pricing

Reviews

No rating given with this review
My wife and I, as did our two daughters and their husbands....could not have enjoyed the Hacienda any more that we did. The rooms are very spacious and comfortable, with a large bathroom and a spacious and comfortable patio equipped with an outdoor Jacuzzi...the grounds are beautiful, all full of tropical flowers and plants. David accompanied and we thoroughly enjoyed his company. The cooking classes at Los Dos were very well handled and the. The beautifulcourtyard and “dipping” pool at his house adds a special touch. The booklet David provided us in connection with the cooking was so well organized with the menus and the recipes, which you would expect,but it also had useful information on Yucatecan ingredients, terminology and more. Our driver/tour guide for our day-time tours and for the evening trips to the restaurants was very knowledgeable, polite and friendly. He had a great enthusiasm for Yucatan and its history and people, and it showed in his presentations to us. He really opened our eyes to the land and its uniqueness. All in all, a great trip. This one was more or less to mark the milestone of my wife’s 60th. She really cherished the experience, both from the viewpoint of the activities and exploration, but especially, for the chance to share these experiences with our daughters and their husbands. Finally, thanks to you, Robyn, for all your arrangements of details. As they say, sometimes it’s in the details where the devil resides, but none of that with this trip. All worked out well. Sincerely, John H. (CA)
No rating given with this review
Your school goes beyond the idea of the typical holiday in Mexico by offering an experience of the culture first hand through taste and a hands-on activity. Now I'm able to go home and say I traveled to the Yucatán and experienced unique cuisine and also got a chance to cook it for myself -- all in a stunning setting in the private old colonial mansion of a cook from New York! What's more, I not only worked hard and learned how to cook a lot of new things, but I also felt pampered by the setting, the service & the ambiance. Gail G., Toronto, Canada
No rating given with this review
As a mixed French-Italian couple, we believe that culture includes gastronomy -- so we had to try to learn about Yucatan cuisine. We all enjoyed this wonderful house restored with such taste and fidelity, the warmth of the welcome and the quality of what we heard and made: not only do you learn about making this delicious cuisine but also you get a personal view from sensitive and intelligent hosts who love México and Yucatán. This was a perfect complementary view of the marvelous sites of this area. Fabien and Marina C., Paris, France
No rating given with this review
If there was one highlight of our trip to Mexico -- and with everything Mexico has to offer, it can be hard to choose -- it was attending your school. From my initial inquiries to the final dinner, I was overwhelmed by David's friendly, professional and helpful approach to answering my questions, arranging a menu, and, most important, teaching us how to cook such wonderful food. Thank you, both David and Keith, for an unforgettable trip to Mérida, for your enthusiasm and hospitality, and for making us feel like we were at home. I will not hesitate to sign up for more classes next time we come to Mérida! Blair and Lauren L., Shanghai, China
No rating given with this review
Just a quick note to say thanks for the fun day we spent cooking, eating and chatting together in Mérida -- we really enjoyed it. I think I must be still suffering a bit of jet lag. It's 2 a.m. and yet I'm raring to go! Maybe I should get in the kitchen and rustle up a salsa or three. You'll be pleased to know I recreated Moros y Cristianos this evening, although with peas (I didn't have any black beans), so it was more like Martians and Christians than Moors and Christians. Best wishes to you all and thanks again. Graham and Jozef, Brussels, Belgium
No rating given with this review
We arrived back in California Thursday evening in one piece, and have been catching up since our return. It was indeed a pleasure meeting you and spending quality time learning about the unique foods and fine cuisine of Yucatan. We learned much from your overview about the differences between Mexican and Yucatan cooking ingredients and methods of food preparation. The markets you took us to, both new and old, were eye-opening and became far less intimidating to us after your knowledgeable introduction. In fact, we were so inspired that we cooked cochinita pibil yesterday, using the Annatto paste we bought from you -- and it was quite good! Finally, we commend you on the wonderful job you and Keith have done on your awesome Mérida home. You have given it new life as well as created a very inviting and rich environment for culinary students and guests. Diana and Fred G., CA
No rating given with this review
Dear Chef David, your cooking course was practical, informative and lots of fun. I really enjoyed the trip to the markets and meeting all your contacts. I wish there had been time for a more extensive course. I give you top billing for your teaching skills, cooking expertise, personal warmth and graciousness. With fond memories, Lis. Lis M., Australia
No rating given with this review
My husband and I thoroughly enjoyed our day of cooking and eating. As a person who loves to cook and has participated in other cooking schools in North America, this by far was the most entertaining and knowledgeable day I have experienced. A tour of Mérida's wonderful mercado lead by David was a real highlight. I was then able to go back the next day and purchase with confidence. Even the husband enjoyed the day! David provided a great deal of background on the history and culture of the Yucatán relative to the cuisine. Thank you both, David and Keith! Maureen D., Calgary, Canada
No rating given with this review
Thank you for a fantastic day spent at Los Dos last week. Michael and I both had a wonderful time hearing about Mayan and Yucatan cooking, and then having the opportunity to make (and eat!) such simple, beautiful and extraordinarily flavorful dishes. In a million years, I never thought I'd get Michael to eat onions pickled with an entire head of charred garlic, not to mention ANYTHING cooked in lard – but the flavors and the presentation were so fantastic, how could one not indulge? Hopefully, the dishes I make back here in San Francisco with the spices we bought at the fabulous Galvez market will come out half as good! Again, a heartfelt Mayan yum botic to both you and Keith. We've already recommended Los Dos to a number of our friends and will continue to do so. Brian P., CA
No rating given with this review
Everything was outstanding! From our hotel -- Casa Lacanda -- to the driver/guide Pablo, to the tours of the market, seeing what the plants looked like of the foods we might be preparing, the Mayan sites (Pablo was a passionate spokesman for the history of the area) and of course, Chef David and his excellent team where we had two days of preparing and eating typical foods of the Yucatan. Nothing fell short at all! A fabulous vacation I would highly recommend. Louise B., & Lyslie R., Canada