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Cooking classes with Diana Kennedy


mukki
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I'm thinking about taking the cooking class tour with Diana Kennedy (run through Marilyn Tausend's Culinary Adventures) next year, if offered. Has anyone taken classes with Diana? I'm sure the classes are great, but I haven't been able to find any first-hand accounts. I'm also considering a long weekend course with Susana Trilling around the holidays, but since I'd probably only do one or the other in the near future, I'd like to get opinions.

Edited by mukki (log)
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I'm thinking about taking the cooking class tour with Diana Kennedy (run through Marilyn Tausend's Culinary Adventures) next year, if offered. Has anyone taken classes with Diana? I'm sure the classes are great, but I haven't been able to find any first-hand accounts. I'm also considering a long weekend course with Susana Trilling around the holidays, but since I'd probably only do one or the other in the near future, I'd like to get opinions.

I am doing Marilyn Tausend's week-long class with Diana Kennedy next month. I have been on several of Marilyn's trips and can recommend them highly. They are well organized and quite fun. I also took a 1-day class with Diana Kennedy many years ago. She is a tiny lady in stature but imposing. She is a traditionalist and a purist and, as I understand it, quite the stickler for process and procedure. I am, however, looking forward to this trip with GREAT anticipation.

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I'm thinking about taking the cooking class tour with Diana Kennedy (run through Marilyn Tausend's Culinary Adventures) next year, if offered. Has anyone taken classes with Diana? I'm sure the classes are great, but I haven't been able to find any first-hand accounts. I'm also considering a long weekend course with Susana Trilling around the holidays, but since I'd probably only do one or the other in the near future, I'd like to get opinions.

I am doing Marilyn Tausend's week-long class with Diana Kennedy next month. I have been on several of Marilyn's trips and can recommend them highly. They are well organized and quite fun. I also took a 1-day class with Diana Kennedy many years ago. She is a tiny lady in stature but imposing. She is a traditionalist and a purist and, as I understand it, quite the stickler for process and procedure. I am, however, looking forward to this trip with GREAT anticipation.

How exciting -- please let us know how it goes!

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I took a number of classes with Diana Kennedy when she came to Bonnie Stern's cooking school in Toronto. She is indeed tiny and imposing and a stickler, and warm and generous and incredibly knowlegeable. I learned a great deal. I can't imagine that the course you are talking about could be anything but wonderful. Wish I could go.

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I know Marilyn and her programs are fabulous.. I learned to cook mexican with Diane Kennedy's cookbook.

I heard Diane speak at IACP once, and she is a tough little thing... but would be like studying with julia in France!

I have taken Suzanna's Classes twice in Oaxaca and loved them.

I understand Americans and their ways often better than the British...and it was a small relaxed class!

higly recommended.

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I believe it is sold out. It costs $2800 US for 3 days of classes...just so you know what you're getting into...

There are people who teach in Mexico City, not as big stars, but perhaps as good if not better. Ricardo Muñoz is one. The school connected to Pujol is another as is Ambrosia.

(www.ambrosia.com.mx) Of course these courses are in Spanish.

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I believe it is sold out. It costs $2800 US for 3 days of classes...just so you know what you're getting into...

There are people who teach in Mexico City, not as big stars, but perhaps as good if not better. Ricardo Muñoz is one. The school connected to Pujol is another as is Ambrosia.

(www.ambrosia.com.mx) Of course these courses are in Spanish.

I'll agree Marilyn's trips are not inexpensive. What's included is all lodging, all food (classes and meals), some alcoholic beverages with each meal, all payments to cooking instructors, all ground transportation in Mexico, entry fees where required and almost all tips. It is a little on the spendy side but Marilyn's tours are really first rate, and given her clientele, the amenities (for lack of a better descriptor) are on the higher end for Mexico

I do know Ricardo and have had the opportunity to both cook and study with him as well as to simply spend time. In fact, he was the one that took me to Centro Culinario the cooking school associated with Ambrosia Catering. It is truly an impressive operation. I haven't been the the CIA in Hyde Park, but I have been to the CIA in Napa and Centro Culinario compares very favorably to the Napa campus. When I was there I talked with the exec. chef that runs Centro Culinario and he said that it is possible to do stages there if one didn't want to do the whole degree program. I don't think you'd have to be completely fluent in Spanish but you would need to have a reasonable command of the language.

While there we also ate in Centro Culinario's restaurant -- Alkimia. The meal was nothing short of sensational. (Alkimia is to CC what the Wine Spectator resto is to CIA/Greystone.) Wonderful alta cocina meal.

The draw for me, of course, is Diana Kennedy. Not because of her celebrity status, but because she's not exactly a spring chicken and who knows how long she'll be around, she is a walking encyclopedia of information, and finally because she is a purist and a traditionalist. I am neither, in fact I find myself drifting more and more towards alta-cocina, but I have tremendous respect for tradition and I'd like to experience her philosophy first hand and see if I can find an integration point for the two genres. :smile:

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Having been on a trip with Marilyn, I have no doubt that it will be of the highest order. If that one doesn't work out, she has others with Rick Bayless and Ricardo Muñoz. I can certainly understand the specific desire to learn from Diana Kennedy though. Marilyn is also branching out to Spain with a trip to the Basque Country planned for next fall.

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Having been on a trip with Marilyn, I have no doubt that it will be of the highest order. If that one doesn't work out, she has others with Rick Bayless and Ricardo Muñoz. I can certainly understand the specific desire to learn from Diana Kennedy though. Marilyn is also branching out to Spain with a trip to the Basque Country planned for next fall.

There aren't many Grand Divas left in any category! It IS a rare opportunity...

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I've taken several with Diana Kennedy / Marilyn Tausend ... been to her home in Zitacuaro.

Any specific questions? I'd really like to go on the one to Veracruz next.

Terila

Los Angeles

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I've taken several with Diana Kennedy / Marilyn Tausend ... been to her home in Zitacuaro.

Any specific questions?  I'd really like to go on the one to Veracruz next.

Terila

Los Angeles

Overall, what were your impressions of the classes? What did you think of the types and variety of dishes taught and cooked? The visits to markets, bakeries, etc.? Diana Kennedy as an instructor? Logistics -- housing, transportation?

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I've taken several with Diana Kennedy / Marilyn Tausend ... been to her home in Zitacuaro.

Any specific questions?  I'd really like to go on the one to Veracruz next.

Terila

Los Angeles

Overall, what were your impressions of the classes? What did you think of the types and variety of dishes taught and cooked? The visits to markets, bakeries, etc.? Diana Kennedy as an instructor? Logistics -- housing, transportation?

My first trip was about the second or third that had taken place. It was to Moreila which I LOVED. Marilyn has the right mix of "keeping it together" and having fun.

At that time all trips met in Mexico City at the Hotel Maria Cristina which struck the right note to me. We were then transported by a small private bus to Zitacuaro where we stayed in one of the most delightful places ever ... the Rancho San Cayetano Hotel run by a Vietnamese emigre with all the young staff trained by Diana. This was where we met to make forays to Diana's home. We walked to Diana's in the morning along a tree lined path followed by a gaggle of wild turkeys. BTW, if you Google Rancho San Cayetano you can see some lovely private photos [not mine].

Diana is wonderful, didactic, quirky and brillant IMO. She makes things that turn out so wonderful. She took time out of her busy schedule to walk with me alone to a remote spot in Oaxaca [on a later trip] to buy a great little gram scale and have it calibrated. In the trips I've gone on with her she remains somewhat aloof which does not detract from her charm at all. Her recipes were always revelations. To this day the Clayuda she made for me, and the entire group, remains one of the highlights of my gastronomic experiences.

At all points on all trips Marilyn made a point of providing a real Mexican cultural experience ... from making Brazos de Indios tamales in Merida to slaughtering a pig and making a real Conchinito Pibil at a Yucantanean home.

I could go on and on ... but I would take another trip with Marilyn and another trip with Diana anytime. The trips had the right mix of great food, great scenary, good company, convivial Mexican culture that made it a total hit.

Should you be serious about going I would be glad to show you my photos.

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BTW, I hasten to add that my experiences with the classes with Diana that I have related above may or may not resemble the current ones.

My experiences were almost 20 years ago. :)

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My first trip was about the second or third that had taken place.  It was to Moreila which I LOVED.  Marilyn has the right mix of "keeping it together" and having fun. 

At that time all trips met in Mexico City at the Hotel Maria Cristina which struck the right note to me.  We were then transported by a small private bus to Zitacuaro where we stayed in one of the most delightful places ever ... the Rancho San Cayetano Hotel run by a Vietnamese emigre with all the young staff trained by Diana.  This was where we met to make forays to Diana's home.  We walked to Diana's in the morning along a tree lined path followed by a gaggle of wild turkeys.  BTW, if you Google Rancho San Cayetano you can see some lovely private photos [not mine].

Diana is wonderful, didactic, quirky and brillant IMO.  She makes things that turn out so wonderful.  She took time out of her busy schedule to walk with me alone to a remote spot in Oaxaca [on a later trip] to buy a great little gram scale and have it calibrated.  In the trips I've gone on with her she remains somewhat aloof which does not detract from her charm at all.  Her recipes were always revelations.  To this day the Clayuda she made for me, and the entire group, remains one of the highlights of my gastronomic experiences.

At all points on all trips Marilyn made a point of providing a real Mexican cultural experience ... from making Brazos de Indios tamales in Merida to slaughtering a pig and making a real Conchinito Pibil at a Yucantanean home. 

I could go on and on ... but I would take another trip with Marilyn and another trip with Diana anytime.  The trips had the right mix of great food, great scenary, good company, convivial Mexican culture that made it a total hit. 

Should you be serious about going I would be glad to show you my photos.

Sounds wonderful. Your comments make me want to go all the more, which I will definitely try to do next summer if the classes are offered again. It's too bad they were sold out this year. Reading about these trips brings back a wonderful memory of a tiny Colima beach town where I ate the most delicious tamal (this was during a trip to preserve Leatherback turtle eggs while in high school) -- I'm sort of imagining that these classes would be like that memory times one hundred.

I'd love to see any pictures you'd like to share.

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From my experience Marilyn's trips sell very, very fast. I suspect that some people go year after year as I did for awhile. I am experiencing the same thing with Penelope Casas' culinary trips to Spain as well.

Unfortunately, the negatives to my photos were destroyed in flooding some years ago and I have to figure out how to get them digitalized. If we ever have an eGullet meeting I would be glad to bring them along. We used to have annual L.A. get togethers for the alt.food.cooking people. Does eGullet have gatherings? To eat, party and talk?

As for the Ranch San Cayetano some great photos are posted by someone I do not know. He has many galleries of great culinary trips through Mexico:

http://www.pbase.com/panos/ranchosancayetano

And the Rancho's own site:

http://www.ranchosancayetano.com/foto_tour...d/foto_tour.htm

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That would be the poster known as Anonimo, who sometimes posts here on eGullet.

I also agree that Marilyn's trips sell out quickly. I really wanted to do the one to Chiapas this past January but it was already sold out. Check the 2 trips to SMA in 2008 (Feb and Apr I think). I believe that DK is listed as one of the instructors along with Ricardo and Roberto Santibañez on the April trip.

Marilyn requires a $300 deposit with full payment 60 days prior to the trip start. There is a cancellation policy, but I believe you can get most of the deposit back if you notify her of your inability to participate far enough in advance, or she'll roll the deposit to another trip.

For the trip next month, Marilyn is using the Maria Cristina in D.F. and Rancho San Cayetano in Zitacuaro. We are stopping in Toluca to shop at a local tianguis. Transportation is by van between the 2 cities. Cooking with Diana will be at her house (not RSC) and she's already told Marilyn and Ana Elena (Marilyn's asst. in Mex) they can't come! What we cook will depend upon what is fresh in the local markets each morning and what DK feels like doing. I'm hoping for pozole or churipo.

I have to echo Terila about the validity of Diana Kennedy's recipes. Structurally, they are some of the soundest recipes I've every had to use. I have been able to expand and standardize them for 100 servings without loosing the integrity of the final dish.

Edited by kalypso (log)
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That would be the poster known as Anonimo, who sometimes posts here on eGullet.

Thank you, Kalypso; here on EG I'm known as PanosMex

Oops, sorry 'bout that. I knew something didn't look quite right when I wrote it. :wacko:

Edited by kalypso (log)
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  • 4 weeks later...

I have had the privelege of taking classes with Ms. Kennedy several times and have never, ever been disapponted. The woman is a walking encyclopedia of information on Mexican cuisine. I consider myself to be very knowledgeable on Mexican foods and I have always come away from her classes enriched with facts that I didn't know.

One memorable class that I took with Ms. Kennedy, found her short-handed on kitchen help--she asked for a volunteer and I siezed upon the oppurtunity to work with the master herself...It was an experience I will never forget. God love that woman.

Never pass on the chance to take a Diana Kennedy class.....

I have not had the chance to take one of Ms. Tausends classes, most times my own scheule hasn't allowed the time, But I have been honored to have had recipes of mine published in one of her cookbooks.

All in all, Mexican cooking classes by Kennedy, Tausend, Nunoz or Quintana should not be passed on lightly, they will enrichen your life and your kitchen.

"We do not stop playing because we grow old,

we grow old because we stop playing"

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  • 2 weeks later...

I just got back a few hours ago from my week with Diana Kennedy. It was an interesting experience and I'd do it again in a heartbeat.

It's pushing midnight here in San Diego, I've been up since 6:30 am Mexico City time (that would be 4:30 AM in SD) and have to leave early for work and my return to reality. I have tons of fotos I need to download off my camera and will post some of those later along with a description of what the classes were like. Amazing experience, but definitely not for the faint of heart.

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  • 6 months later...
I just got back a few hours ago from my week with Diana Kennedy.  It was an interesting experience and I'd do it again in a heartbeat. 

It's pushing midnight here in San Diego, I've been up since 6:30 am Mexico City time (that would be 4:30 AM in SD) and have to leave early for work and my return to reality.  I have tons of fotos I need to download off my camera and will post some of those later along with a description of what the classes were like.  Amazing experience, but definitely not for the faint of heart.

Hi there, did you go via a tour company or book in direct? trying to find a direct way to get in touch with Diana and not having any luck!

wld appreciate any tips.

joanna

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Hi there, did you go via a tour company or book in direct? trying to find a direct way to get in touch with Diana and not having any luck!

wld appreciate any tips.

joanna

I went with a small group booked through Marilyn Tausend's Culinary Adventures . I believe she is offering a least 1 more week class this summer. I don't think you can book private classes directly with Diana, and from what I understood last summer, her web site is sort of perpetually in development.

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