Earlier this year, we took a trip to Mexico with our cousins and stayed a couple of nights in Puerto Vallarta. On our first day, we enjoyed a day-long cooking class at Gaby’s Restaurant that began with a walk to the market with our excellent teacher, Chef Julio. At the open-air markets, we learned about traditional Mexican ingredients, visited a tortilleria, and gathered our supplies for a day of cooking.
The setting of Gaby’s cooking school does not let you forget that you’re on vacation. The outdoor kitchen is situated at the top of a hill with a beautiful view of the Pacific Ocean. Chef Julio had us make around eight different salsas that we sampled as we went. While we cooked, we sipped on passionfruit margaritas that I still dream of. We made two types of guacamole, two types of salsa ranchera, salsa verde and a few more. Before long, we had filled ourselves with chips and realized we would need to pace ourselves because we hadn’t even gotten to the main dishes yet!
Chef Julio began a chicken stock towards the beginning of the class which would ultimately be used for the Mole Poblano, but also for several of the recipes leading up to that finale dish. He also used the stock for adding to some of the salsas and tortilla soup. He showed us proper knife techniques, traditional Mexican kitchen components like a comal and tortilla press, the correct way to chop tomatoes, mise en place, how to tie a tamale and so much more. We made ceviche Vallarta (raw Bonita fish marinated in lime juice, served on tostadas), tortilla soup, chiles rellenos, homemade tortillas, sweet tamales, and mole poblano. We made so much food, we were invited to pack up as much as we wanted to take with us (which came in handy for cooking for ourselves over the next few days). This class was beyond a great value. It’s such a fun activity to do with a group, and I continue to make a some of the recipes that we learned that day. Chef Julio could not have been more gracious and hospitable. Whether an experienced cook or a novice, this class can be enjoyed by all!