Sure, you probably know how to whip up a few Mexican food dishes, but do you know how to do them right? Want to serve something that tastes like it came from a real chef in a high-end Mexican restaurant instead of a bad street stall?
The long-running Sazon cooking school in San Miguel de Allende is one of the best in Mexico for a few reasons, not least that it’s owned and aligned with the Andaza restaurant at Casa de Sierra Nevada Hotel, an Orient-Express property. Chef Emmanuel Cervantes may cook you dinner one night and then lead your class the next day.
Our tour started with a walk to the local market, where we learned about some of the items we’d be using in our dishes that day. Even if you’ve spent a lot of time in Mexico you’ll pick up some tidbits that are new. For me it was learning about the different kinds of dried chilies that are a key part of Mexican cooking, especially the soups and stews. We checked out ancho, hujillo, pasilla, cascabel, and chile del arbol, the chef buying some of them for the Aztec soup we were to cook later. He also picked up some herbs like fennel and Mexican basil.
Back in the Sazon facility, the dozen or so of us—including three kids—could see what the chef was doing on angled mirrors and TV monitors. With various classmates fading in and out to help with preparations, we made several courses plus some excellent fresh salsa and guacamole.
Chef Cervantes showed us how to make the perfect tortilla, how to clean the chilies, and explained why adding toasted tortillas to the soup gives it a better texture (with a little help from a food processor in the middle). We munched on chips with the spicy salsa and guacamole while preparing tacos with a corn fungus delicacy, a Huachinango baked fish dish with lots of vegetables and herbs, plus an apple dessert with lots of butter and cinnamon. This was actually the “healthy Mexican cooking” class day. It can get more decadent on some of the others.
With great facilities and a lot of pre-prep work (and clean-up) done by staffers, the classes move at a good pace and there’s not much time hanging around waiting for something to happen.
The classes run Tuesday through Saturday from 11 to 1:00 or 2:00 pm depending on dishes and whether you tour the market. The price is 690 pesos per person, which is less than $60. Of course you get to eat what you make!