Mexico Lindo Cooking, chef Alejandra Kauachi's cooking school/kitchen in Puerto Morelos, explodes out of the Riviera Maya jungle like a comet of color. The bright yellow casa, framed in pink trim, is far from a subtle refuge, surrounded by otherwise green, leafy forest.
But then, Alejandra is far from subtle. The professionally trained chef, with a sharp sense of humor and a passion for all things Mexican, never wanted to work in a restaurant. She became a chef to tell the story of Mexico through food by helping people learn to make age-old recipes.
For those who have taken a cooking class in Mexico, chances are it's gone one of two ways. The prep work is either done for you, so all you have to do is stir, toss or fold, or you're sitting facing the chef as they cook for you and you sip a cocktail. Both are very enjoyable experiences. But Mexico Lindo takes it to the next level.
The immersive experience is a half-day excursion. Arriving to the gorgeous pink-and-yellow kitchen, you are met with an outdoor wood-burning stove and long communal table. Alejandra has laid out freshly cut cucumber, carrots and jicama, doused in lime juice and served with sprinkled Tajin and a side of pumpkin seed salsa.
But that's where the premade enjoyment stops. Then it's time for her clients to don the aprons and embark on a five-and-a-half-hour endeavor to cook everything from carnitas tacos to chile rellenos to pink dessert tamales, colored with beet root and filled with raisins and pineapple.
Alejandra and her team of sous chefs are on hand to direct the process, but the meal is left in the hands of the participants. Of course, the minute details surrounding cooking carnitas to the perfect temperature, and slicing the massive green peppers to perfection for chile rellenos, are left to the professionals, but for the majority of the experience, the client is doing the cooking, and learning so much in the process. Alejandra's passion (read: patience) makes the experience feel as if you've been cooking these recipes for years.
After everything is left to simmer, and the expert team of sous chefs scurry to plate dishes on perfectly painted terracotta dishware, Alejandra ushered us out to the communal table for a salud with tequila, and some kind words about the bonding experience we just shared. When the food finally arrived, it felt as if it was something we truly earned. Five-plus hours on your feet actually cooking is not easy, but in the process what you ingest (mentally and physically) about Mexico's culture is well worth the wait.
Rates for cooking classes begin at $125 per person.