I am not Mexican by birth, heritage, or citizenship, but my relationship to the food of Mexico now spans more than half a century. As my father was in produce, buying the potatoes, onions, and citrus fruits from the fields and orchards, and selling them by the railroad car to the wholesale buyers in the larger metropolitan hubs of the country, I grew up following the Mexican migrant workers’ rhythmic cycle of the growing season throughout southern Texas, southern Idaho, and California’s central valley. And I learned about food by sharing meals with the Mexican-American migrant workers.
After a lifetime interest in Hispanic culture, in 1987 I formed Culinary Adventures, Inc. to lead culinary tours throughout Mexico for both food aficionados and culinary professionals alike. My staff and I have also created specialized trips and programs for other groups, including the Culinary Institute of America (CIA) at Greystone, the International Association of Culinary Professionals (IACP), and chef and restaurant owner Rick Bayless, who has our company design intensive annual trips to different parts of Mexico for the employees of his Chicago restaurants. We have also provided technical assistance for various television shows, including the Food Network’s Too Hot Tamales, with Mary Sue Miliken and Susan Feniger while on site in Oaxaca and Yucatán, and I have served as a a consultant to Jose Cuervo International, Goya Foods, Inc., Nestles, Taco Bell and other companies specializing in Mexican products.
In 2010, I gratefully accepted the Culinary Tour Operator of the Year award from the IACP at its conference in Portland, which was then followed by Culinary Adventures, Inc. being named one of Sherman’s Travels Top 10 culinary tours.
I have the privilege of working with a great staff, Kathie Vezzani who works with me in Gig Harbor, Ana Elena Martinez who lives in Puebla, and guest instructors Chef Ricardo Muñoz from Mexico City, Chef Roberto Santibañez from NYC, Chocolatier Elaine Gonzalez from Chicago, Diana Kennedy in Michoacán, Susana Trilling in Oaxaca, and of course, my friend, Rick Bayless and his chef de cuisine, Richard James.