Chicago is one of the Best Places to Eat!

When the James Beard Awards Gala was held in Chicago last month, visitors were met with banners at Chicago’s O’Hare airport and restaurants rolled out their red carpets to show everyone what I already knew. Chicago is one of the best places in the world to eat and not just because of my friend Rick Bayless and his wife Deann’s eating establishments.

Tom Sietsema of the Washington Post recently wrote a wonderful article on eating in Chicago as part of his search for America’s best food cities. I highly recommend reading it. Here is the link.

He interviews Rick and several other chefs and writes about the history of Chicago and its relationship to food.

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Rick Bayless and Marilyn Tausend
Sooke Harbour House, Marilyn’s Birthday Celebration


He says of Rick, “To keep his menus fresh, the restaurateur takes staffers on multiple trips to different parts of Mexico every year.” Culinary Adventures is proud to have been part of organizing these trips and the chefs’ trips that continue are held each September. This year’s trip is in Campeche September 20-27.

Campeche Chefs’ Trip

September 20-27, 2015 This year’s chefs’ trip is to Campeche, a seldom visited state on the Yucatán Peninsula. The capital, also Campeche, is now a UNESCO World Heritage site and will be our destination for the chefs’ trip September 20 through the 27th. Campeche, formerly named Ah-Kim-Pech, which means “Place of Snakes and Ticks,” is an ancient settlement from the magnificent Mayan culture founded in 1540 by the Spanish.

Chef Ricardo Munoz

Chef Ricardo Munoz

The week is filled with classes, demonstrations and discussions with Chef Ricardo Muñoz and various local chefs who will teach Campeche’s local specialties such as muc bil pollo.

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Malecon in Campeche

We will be staying at the Best Western Hotel Del Mar just across the street from the Gulf of Mexico and the colorful 3.5 kilometer malecon (boardwalk), for you running and walking enthusiasts. The location is just blocks away from the historic centro with buildings ranging from the 16th to the 20th centuries, including military, civil and religious structures. The folklore and history of this legendary city are still alive in its streets and one can easily imagine the Spanish conquistadors and pirates that once roamed here.

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Photo by Ana Elena Martinez

There will be demos at the Panderia La Huachita bakery, and in the small town of Becal we will see how the jipilapa hats are woven by families and made in limestone caves to escape the Yucatecan blistering heat. There are some wonderful pictures here by Lukas Vacovsky of the process.

Next up is a demo on making muc bil pollo at the Hacienda Blanca Flor before driving to Uxmal where we will spend the night. In the morning we will tour the site before visiting the Eco Chocolate Museum, and returning to Campeche and more classes with local cooks.

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Chefs Ana Elena Martinez and Ricardo Munoz

The trip starts and ends in Campeche and costs $4,000 with an additional $300 for a single room. The costs include two meals per day, hotel accommodations and transportation and fees during the trip. It excludes airfare to/from Campeche. The trip is limited to 20 chefs and food professionals (as of 5/5 there are 7 spots left). To sign up please use the contact form listed below.

A cooking lesson with Pilar Cabrera

A delightful view of my good friend Pilar Cabrera as she teaches a few students about the art of making tamales, like the ones her grandmother taught her to make. Pilar is the chef of La Olla Restaurante in Oaxaca. Her food is delicious.

Exploring Chiapas with Chef Andres Padilla

Chef Rick and Deann Bayless, along with Topolobampo Culinary Director Chef Andres Padilla, spent time while in Chiapas going to Ocosingo, Chamula and of course, the mercados. Here, Chef Andres describes the experience of what they saw. You can also see more pictures of Chiapas on his Tumbler page.

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Chef Andres Padilla, Topolobampo

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Chiapas Explorer’s Trip

Here is a visual summary of the February explorer’s trip to Chiapas. The videos were made by Kathy Martinides.

An opportunity to cook with Diana Kennedy

www.dianakennedycenter.org;www.culinaryadventuresinc.com Diana has turned Quinta Kennedy, her home in Michoacán, into an educational center/foundation. She is offering the first of her boot camps, The Building Blocks of Mexican Food January 18-25, 2015. Many of you have asked repeatedly when the next trip to Diana’s would be taking place, so now is your opportunity to sign up and study the basics of Mexican cuisine with Diana. The trip will start and end in Mexico City. For more details go to her website.

The Diana Kennedy Center (Fundación Quinta Diana) is a culinary research center and foundation based at the property of Diana Kennedy in Michoacán, Mexico. The center will offer intensive Mexican cooking courses with Diana, serve as a research center with access to Diana’s personal library and archives of notes, and fund organic edible gardens in local schools

A Culinary Adventure in Chiapas, Mexico with Rick Bayless and Ricardo Munoz

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A lesson in making tamales in San Cristobal, Chiapas
Photo by Igancio Urquiza

8/25 Trip is full and a waiting list has been started.

Chiapas and Tabasco here we come! We finally decided on these two very southern states for our February culinary adventure with most of the time being spent in Chiapas, a state with a very interesting cuisine, including an incredible variety of different types of tamales—at least fifty that I have tasted, seen, or heard about. We still are not sure if we will start the trip in Villahermosa, Tabasco or Tuxtla Gutierrez, Chiapas. I did, however, wanted to give you a heads up on what will be included no matter where we may start the trip.

Rick Bayless in San Cristobal, Chiapas

Rick Bayless in San Cristobal, Chiapas

We will be exploring many of the different regions of Chiapas, from the rugged mountains and cloud forest surrounding the 6,900 feet high colonial city of San Cristóbal, to the lowland rain forests where we will spend a night in cabins in the region where many of the Lancandóns live, just one of the many groups of indigenous people in Chiapas.

Most tourists come to this state to visit the spectacular archeological sites, especially Palenque, however my favorite is the isolated Yaxchilan which we can only get to by boat on the Rió Usamacinta that forms the border with Guatemala.

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Yaxchilan

 

 We will explore these as well as Bonampak with its vivid Mayan murals inside one of the temples.

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Murals in Bonampak Archeological site, Chiapas

The first time my husband, Fredric and I were here years ago, we had to hike and climb several really rough miles on a muddy, virtually impossible trail, but now there is a paved road all the way.

 

We hope to have our classes at Casa Ná-Bolom, the former home of Frans Blom an explorer and archeologist, and his wife Trudi Blom, a photographer and anthropologist who explored this region. Trudi is famous for her work on Lacandón culture and her photographs are on display at the house museum which we will visit.

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Church in San Juan Chamula, Chiapas

 

We also will be visiting several of the nearby villages including San Juan Chamula and its very unusual church with pine needles scattered on the floor, and sometimes chickens are in attendance. Close by is the village of Zincantán, where we are hoping to schedule another traditional meal like we have had in the past with a local family who also are known for their weaving.

 

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Family in Zincantan, Chiapas

 

 

 

 

On our way to Palenque and Tabasco, we will stop at a very special small cheese producer of the local cheeses, including Rick Bayless’s favorite “doble crema,” and visit the dazzling waterfalls Agua Azul as the water tumbles down the numerous small cliffs.

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Olmec head in Villahermosa, Tabasco

In Tabasco, we will spend time in the fascinating La Venta where gigantic 6-foot tall carved stone Olmec heads weighing at least 20 tons are interspersed throughout a jungle-like setting.

Both Chef Rick Bayless and Chef Ricardo Muñoz will be with us to give classes and share their culinary knowledge and one day, Ricardo’s aunt, an excellent home cook, will give a demonstration of some of the regional foods of her area.

Chef Ricardo Munoz

Chef Ricardo Munoz

Later this summer, we will have the exact dates, but I expect it to be on or around the week of February 14-22. At that time, we will let you know the total cost. Do let me know if you are interested in joining us on this trip. It will truly be a culinary adventure.