Learning to Cook in Merida
Los Dos is the first school in Mexico devoted exclusively to the cuisine of Yucatán. Featured widely in magazines such as Condé Nast Traveler, Travel & Leisure, and Gourmet, and on broadcast television such as Oprah Winfrey's Oxygen channel, with Martha Stewart (see video below), and with Rick Bayless on PBS, Chef David Sterling's Los Dos school has become a “must-do” destination in Yucatán, along with the spectacular Mayan ruins and many natural wonders. The setting is a magnificent colonial mansion in downtown Mérida, capital of Yucatán, Mexico. The lovingly restored building is the private home of Chef David Sterling, who manages the school. Soaring 18-foot ceilings, sumptuous surroundings, the pool, terrace and garden, a formal dining room and parlor and the gorgeous Mexican kitchen are yours to enjoy.
What makes cooking at Los Dos such a delightful experience is that you learn directly with Chef Sterling in his own kitchen (see video below). This personal attention – chatting with Chef Sterling over morning coffee or accompanying him to the market – makes spending a day at Los Dos a memorable part of any vacation to the Yucatán Peninsula.
Designed for people who love to cook as well as to learn about world cultures, each class at Los Dos begins with coffee, pastries and tropical fruits and ends with a fabulous meal that you and Chef Sterling prepare together. In between, you'll receive fascinating background information on the importance of the Mayan peoples in the development of Mexican cuisine and culture; you'll tour the sprawling and colorful Mérida market; and in the participatory cooking class you will experience first-hand the many exotic ingredients that make Yucatecan cuisine so unique.
Chef Sterling offers a variety of class options to suit the needs and interests of travelers from around the world. From “Overviews” to 3-day or 1-week combination cooking/excursion packages, cooking at Los Dos can be seamlessly combined with your stay in Mérida, as you tour the Mayan ruins and the many historical and natural splendors that the Yucatán Peninsula offers. Chef Sterling can also design a program specifically for the interests or requirements of a private group. All classes are taught in English.
About the cuisine of Yucatan: Was Yucatecan cooking the first "fusion" cuisine? Possibly! This amazing culinary tradition is a rich blend of ancient Mayan and Spanish techniques and ingredients, with just a soupçon of French and Caribbean influence. Like much of Mexico, Yucatán has its native ingredients and its indigenous population to thank for the core of its cuisine. Ingredients like chaya, oregano Yucateco, and one of the world's hottest chiles, the habanero, are unique to Yucatán.
Cooking methods like the pib – a hand-dug pit lined with stones and fiery coals in which banana-leaf-wrapped meats are cooked – are typical of Mayan cooking.
Ground spice pastes used for marinades, sauces of nuts, spices and chiles, intricate methods for cooking meats, and pungent citrus juices all contribute to the unique culinary tradition of Yucatán. Yucatecan cuisine remains little known outside the region. But for the serious student and gourmet, it contains elements of surprise and richness that rival the great cuisines of the world.
Here's what you'll get. Included in the price of all standard classes are a light continental breakfast, a mid-day snack of traditional Yucatecan fare, a full comida “fuerte” in the afternoon (your choice of wine or beer), all class materials and ingredients, a Los Dos apron, a Los Dos workbook that includes historical and background information about Yucatecan cooking, and of course, full recipes for the dishes that you will prepare.
Advance reservations are required and payment must be made no later than 48 hours prior to the scheduled class. Cash or PayPal payments only. For more information, including class availability and fees, visit the Los Dos Cooking School website at www.los-dos.com or email them at email@example.com
Note: Chef David Sterling focuses exclusively on Yucatecan cuisine at his popular cooking school, Los Dos, in Mérida's Centro Historico. But when he was contracted to develop a Mexican restaurant in Munich, Germany, he called upon his knowledge of others of the country's varied cuisines.
Here's a video of a typical cooking class:
And here's a video of Chef Sterling showing Martha Stewart around Mérida's mercado: