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Overview

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

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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 beautiful courtyard 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.

Itinerary

Day One

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

Garden and pool at the Hotel del Balam in 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 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

Your accommodations will be at a hotel in Merida in either classic 4*, 5*, or luxury 5* accommodations (please see luxury upgrade cost on pricing page).

The Casa del Balam offers classic 5* accommodations as well as boutique luxury upgrades, with spacious and bright with large rooms, a swimming pool, air conditioning, and more. (If unavailable a comparable hotel will be offered.)

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The Casa las Palomas is a cozy, 9-room hotel offering classic 5-star accommodations. It is located in an old house of classic style. Its façade is characteristic of the city center, and the hotel combines classic elegance and touches of modernity. There is a central axis with a patio and swimming pool around which the rooms are arranged. (If unavailable a comparable hotel will be offered.)

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Casa Lecanda is a small, luxury 5* hotel, exclusively for adults, situated in the historic center of Merida. The architecture and landscaping provide a unique local experience and sanctuary within the city. (If unavailable a comparable hotel will be offered.)

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Pricing & Tour Dates



Year-Round Pricing:

6-night Program

US$3245 per person based on double occupancy

  • Add US$467 per person to upgrade to Boutique Luxury hotel

30% deposit due to confirm booking.

Balance payment due 60 days prior to tour start date. Questions? Please contact us!

Single occupancy: please inquire.


Tour Dates

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

2022
Sample dates. Program generally starts on Sunday.
January 2-8
January 9-15
January 16-22
January 23-29
January 30- February 5
February 6-12
February 13-19
February 20-26
February 27-March 5
March 6-12
March 13-19
March 20-26
March 27-April 2
April 3-9
April 10-16
April 17-23
April 24-30
May 1-7
May 8-14
May 15-21
May 22-28
May 29-June 4
June 5-11
June 12-18
June 19-25
June 26-July 2
July 3-9
July 10-16
July 17-23
July 24-30
July 31-August 6
August 7-13
August 14-20
August 21-27
August 28-September 3
September 4-10
September 11-17
September 18-24
September 25-October 1
October 2-8
October 19-15
October 16-22
October 23-29
October 30-November 5
November 6-12
November 13-19
November 20-26
November 27-December 3
December 4-10
December 11-17
December 18-24


Year-Round Pricing:

4-night Program

US$2118 per person based on double occupancy

  • Add US$495 per person to upgrade to Boutique Luxury Hotel

30% deposit due to confirm booking.

Balance payment due 60 days prior to tour start date. Questions? Please contact us!

Single occupancy: please inquire.


Tour Dates

Avaialble year round for a minimum of 1 person.

Reviews

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