Though I have traveled throughout Europe and eaten a ton of delicious food, I never participated in an “official” cooking class abroad! I regret not taking advantage of the opportunity while I was there, but when planning my solo adventure through the Yúcatan Peninsula I knew I wanted to try a Mexican cooking class. After reading through TripAdvisor, I stumbled upon one of the highlights of my Mexico trip: Rivera’s Kitchen Tulum. From the food to the history, Rivera’s Kitchen was just the experience I needed when I searched for a cooking class in Tulum.
PLANNING A MEXICAN COOKING CLASS W/ RIVERA’S KITCHEN TULUM
How to find Rivera’s Kitchen
When planning an adventure, I highly recommend using TripAdvisor to find some tourist attractions and then reading the reviews. This was how I found Rivera’s Kitchen and all their social media, so that I could stalk them to see what they are about! The chef, Lily Rivera, also has a nice website I perused when looking for a Tulum cooking class that pretty much sold me on taking it. Fill out the interest form and someone from the Rivera Kitchen team will get back to you fairly quickly.
Scheduling the class
Prior to the class, when they receive your interest form, Rivera’s Kitchen will send a bunch of information about what it entails. This is in English, as well as the class itself, for those who are worried about not knowing Spanish. It will include a menu, the cost of the class, schedule options, and more for you to look over. There is a morning option from 10:30am to 1:30pm, and an evening class from 5:30pm to 8:30pm. I chose the later option, but of course plan according to your schedule. Be sure to notify them of any food allergies or dietary concerns. You wouldn’t want to go to a cooking class in Mexico and not be able to eat the food!
The price is just right
I’ll be honest: I didn’t know how much is too much, or too little, for a cooking class in Mexico. I figured $100 for a few hours would be the maximum in my budget. Search around and send out a few emails to get a quote and see what is available! Rivera’s Kitchen Tulum costs $75 for 3 hours, which I think is a great price if you are looking for a cheap cooking class in Mexico. There may be more expensive classes, or even cheaper ones, but this one was perfect for me. My class went a bit longer than planned, but there was no extra charge.
Transportation to the class
Once you confirm the dates, Lily and her team will send you an email with multiple maps of how to get to her villa. Each map they send is based on your location, and include if you are coming from downtown, the beach, or Akumal. Once at the villa, they have taxis waiting to take everyone in the class to her kitchen. The taxi ride is about 10 minutes outside of the main touristy area in Tulum. Her son was in charge of the taxis during my class, which I loved because I love seeing family businesses in action. Once everyone arrived they drove us to Lily who was waiting to welcome us. These taxis also drop you off at your hostel or hotel afterwards, again free of charge.
EXPERIENCING A COOKING CLASS IN TULUM W/ RIVERA’S KITCHEN
You get a taste of Mexican history and culture
Lily started off the class by giving myself and the other guests some background on who she is and how her culture has influenced the food she cooks. Lily discussed her life in Oaxaca (and why the chiles are better there), why burritos are nonexistent in Mexico, and a brief overiew of the Mexican states for geographical context. Lily also mentioned how green tomatoes are more common in Mexico than red ones because they are considered to be more ancient. Later, we got to see her garden outside and she explained what uses that comes for it. I appreciated all of her insight and learning the story behind the cook, and food.
You get a taste of grasshoppers and mezcal
Of all the things to do at a Tulum cooking class, yes you do try actual grasshoppers. Even though I am pescatarian, I just couldn’t resist the experience—and to my surprise, I liked them! It may have been the chile seasoning she used, but the it reminded me of eating a crunchy prawn or shrimp. For drinks you also have the choice of water, beer, and a shot of mezcal. Unlike the culture of chugging tequila, you sip mezcal and follow up with sweet orange and agave warm salt. Ooh and also remember that if you don’t say salud before drinking, you have bad sex for seven years. Don’t shoot me, I’m just Lily’s messenger…
You make tortilla (from scratch)
Aside from eating the food, this was my favorite part of the class! In Lily’s introduction about Mexican history and culture, she discussed the geographical difference of tortillas. For example, flour tortillas are more common in a northern cooking class in Mexico because it’s a drier climate. Corn tortillas are commonly found in a southern Mexican cooking class, which is referred to as Mesoamérica. I also received some good tips on cooking tortillas from scratch, including how to roll the tortilla in the perfect-sized ball and that sticky tortillas are caused by extremely hot water. Making tortillas is so much easier than I realized, and I look forward to trying Lily’s recipe soon.
You try a bit of everything
For a group of about 10 people, it is a very hands-on class. You work in pairs, individually after Lily assigns a task, or side-by-side with her. You can jump in and ask to do something, if you so choose, or be more observant of the process. Your choice. And of course, you try everything that is cooked. From making the tortilla, to stirring, to cutting vegetables, or even separating the cheese (my very long task), Lily makes sure everyone gets a chance to cut, cook, and eat!
Notable Mexican cooking class tips:
- Avocado oil is the most common in Mexico
- If your overstuff quesadillas, or make the dough texture too thin, they break
- Cook tortillas like pancakes, as in wait for the brim to change colors, flip 3 times, and on the 3rd time the tortilla should puff up
- If you rent a car, you can decide to follow the taxis to Lily’s kitchen
- It was hot when I went in the beginning of May, so bring a waterbottle or even a little fan because cooking only makes it hotter
- Lily understands Mexican heat of course, so she built in break time which is great for socializing with her and other participants (especially as a solo traveler)
If you are wondering what to include on a solo trip to Mexico, or even planning activities with friends and family, I say stop in Tulum and take this class with Rivera’s Kitchen. Yes, you can go to restaurants and try the food, but I think there is beauty in creating food with people who you may or may not know. Food brings people together, and doing a cooking class in Tulum is no different. Lily will draw you in with her knowledge and charisma, and you get a tasty meal to go with it. When looking at the price for a Mexican cooking class, be sure to remember you are directly supporting a local in the place where you are a tourist. I’m all for supporting the people of the country I’m in. Thus, I think Rivera’s Kitchen Tulum is worth every penny.
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