Tante Marie’s Cooking Camp

The week before my Peruvian Tasting at 18 Reasons, I was very excited to attend a week-long cooking camp at Tante Marie’s Cooking School. And much like a boxer before a fight, or a runner before a race, I was the cook before the big tasting event — ready to hone my knife skills and tackle any recipe that was thrown my way. But in the process, I was also reminded of a few simple joys about cooking and sharing food.

Our days started with breakfast at 10 AM while the chef gave a technique demonstration and reviewed the menus for the day. And then we spent the next 4 hours cooking — of course we would also have to eat everything we cooked — from soups, to salads, and sauces, to braised meats, not to mention pastas and pastries. All day long, we ate one dish after another and for each we had to make a very tough choice: white or red wine?

I was so eager to learn, that after the chef showed us how to fillet a fish and asked who wanted to try, I was the first to quickly raise their hand. The next thing I knew, I was in the front and center of the class — boning knife on one hand, a dead fish on the cutting board in front of me, and everyone waiting to see what my next move was. Fortunately, the chef was a great instructor and he walked me through the paces of my first surgery.

One of my favorite moments was using some leftover sea bass to make a little impromptu Ceviche Nikkei to celebrate Peruvian independence day. It was a real joy to walk around the kitchen saying to my fellow cooks, “would you like to try some ceviche?” to which everyone responded “yes!” and also asked for the recipe. And when the chef took a taste of my ceviche and gave it a nod of approval, I was very proud.

Though most of the time I cook alone, in the class I really enjoyed cooking with others to create delicious meals by working together and sharing our love of food. It was also a treat to meet the founder of the school, who came to visit the class on several occasions. After this cooking camp, and my event at 18 Reasons, I have really started to think some more about the mission of Pisco trail, and I think it will involve teaching.