Created by Chris Blackwell, founder of Island Records and Palm Pictures, Island Outpost is a collection of distinct Caribbean boutique properties. Their minimalist-chic designs create a “castaway” vibe in-tune with the natural island surroundings. Island Outpost’s Jamaican properties Goldeneye, Jake’s, Strawberry Hill and The Caves each offer unforgettable cooking programs that tap into indigenous tastes and favorite local recipes. www.islandoutpost.com.
Â· Goldeneye- James Bond novelist Ian Fleming’s former Oracabessa hideaway operates more like a home, where the lifestyle is pure Jamaican in rhythm. Menus are created daily using market-fresh seasonal ingredients, capturing the simplistic, hearty style of authentic Jamaican cuisine. Pam Clarke and Glendon Brown, Goldeneye’s number one “Cookies,” always welcome guests into their kitchen. Pam and Glendon share their knowledge and passion with special cooking classes, teaching guests how to prepare some of Goldeneye’s most famous dishes, including Pam’s Jerk Chicken and Glendon’s Racecourse Fish In Rundown. www.islandoutpost.com/goldeneye.
Â· Jake’s- Located on Jamaica’s Treasure Beach, Jake’s is a local hotspot celebrating the beachcomber lifestyle. For cooking enthusiasts, Jake’s immerses guests into local food culture with market trips on Fridays (which local chefs cite as the best market day). For Jake’s always-fresh seafood, guests can watch boats arrive with the daily catch. Cooking lessons at Jake’s can be arranged upon request for a fee of $20 and up. Guests can also cook their own catch of the day in the kitchen with the guidance of a knowledgeable chef. www.islandoutpost.com/jakes.
Â· Strawberry Hill- Perched atop Jamaica’s Blue Mountains, Strawberry Hill offers refined luxury in a tranquil setting, featuring the Caribbean’s only Aveda Concept Spa. Strawberry Hill offers cooking classes to a minimum of two people and maximum of six people with a two-week advanced notice for reservations. The cost is $75 per person. The superb cooking classes include: a morning market trip to purchase fresh vegetables, fish and ingredients, featuring cultural education discussions along the way; a typical Jamaican lunch; a hands-on lesson from Chef Darren in preparation of the food; and a copy of the recipe so guests can share their new cooking skills with friends at home. www.islandoutpost.com/strawberryhill.
Â· The Caves- Located on a volcanic cliff by the crystal-clear Caribbean Sea in Negril, Jamaica, the Caves provides ultimate serenity. The Caves offers cooking classes upon request at no extra charge to guests. Guests can enjoy a session in the kitchen with the chef of the day. Informal yet detailed, the sessions are all about gaining a real taste for authentic Caribbean cuisine. Receive hands-on experience preparing one of The Caves specialty dishes, such as the traditional ackee & saltfish or its much-loved ital stew. www.islandoutpost.com/thecaves.
MesÃ³n SacristÃa de la CompaÃ±ia in Puebla, part of the Mexico Boutique Hotels collection, transports guests back to 19th-century Mexico with its beautifully preserved dÃ©cor. The hotel’s executive chef Alonso HernÃ¡ndez has perfected a blend of indigenous favorites along with exotic European and Asian ingredients to create a tantalizing Mestizo menu. Guests are welcome to spend a session as a culinary student in Chef HernÃ¡ndez’s modern kitchen. Be warned- cooking at MesÃ³n SacristÃa is not a spectator sport! From grinding spices in a traditional molcajete to roasting peppers on a comal iron griddle, students learn classic Mexican cooking methods used for thousands of years. Chef HernÃ¡ndez guides with a knowing smile on the essentiality of chiles and provides recipes books for students to continue the fun at home. www.mexicoboutiquehotels.com/mesonsacristia.
MEXICO – Mexico Boutique Hotels’ Hacienda Los Laureles Teaches Classic Mexican Cooking
Surrounded by forested mountains minutes from downtown Oaxaca, Hacienda Los Laureles of Mexico Boutique Hotels offers the true flavor of grand Mexican style. The hotel’s Chef Horatio specializes in international, Mexican and regional specialties with a touch of nouvelle cuisine. Guests can join Chef Horatio on a typical day, starting with a visit to the local food market. Walk through the stalls where Oaxaca cheese, chapulines, spices and chocolate are sold. Next, chef and students convene in the Hacienda Los Laureles garden for preparation and cooking lessons. After four to five hours of light-hearted instruction, clients are seated in the hotel’s restaurant to be served their own culinary creations of a typical Oaxaca appetizer, a main dish and dessert dishes. www.mexicoboutiquehotels.com/loslaureles.
MEXICO – Visiting Chefs at Mexico Boutique Hotels’ Hacienda de los Santos
Another magnificent Mexico Boutique Hotels offering, Hacienda de los Santos offers relaxation and casual elegance in the colonial gem of Alamos. Offering haute cuisine lessons, Hacienda de los Santos welcomes visiting chefs from around the country during its high season (February – April). The hotel is also happy to arrange four- to five-day cooking packages in the off-season. The hotel’s kitchen seats 18, so there’s plenty of room for guests to participate (wearing aprons they can keep as souvenirs). The Executive Chef at Hacienda de los Santos, RenÃ© Duarte, also enjoys visits from outside chefs and sits in on lessons to learn along with the guests. After the lesson, the entire group gets to enjoy the culinary masterpieces they themselves have created. www.mexicoboutiquehotels.com/lossantos.