Foodies around the world are drawn to the colorful flavors of Mexico, and now, The Ritz-Carlton, Cancun is making the gastronomic exploration of the region more immersive than ever before. The iconic resort has debuted a new, highly personalized local culinary experience led by Chef Mara Barba of the hotel’s Culinary Center.
The Ritz-Carlton, Cancun’s “Real Cancun Chef’s Adventure” experience immerses guests in the local food culture while giving them a glimpse into how a highly experienced chef shops in local street markets and grocery stores, chooses ingredients that inspire recipes, and creates mouthwatering meals.
The day-long, intimate tour can accommodate up to eight guests, and includes private transportation accompanied by Barba. Guests are gifted with Mayan-themed treats as well as aprons in their room before meeting in the lobby and enjoying Mexican breakfast pastries, fresh fruit, and mimosas. The small group leaves the hotel for a 20-minute private transport—including Mexican snacks—to the chef’s favorite local street market. Then, together, the group winds its way, on foot, through the rustic, colorful markets, where all of the senses are engaged.
From spice vendors to fresh produce vendors, from butchers in open stalls to tiny booths that can only hold a few people at a time, guests can smell, touch, and feel the food items as Barba explains the nuances that make each ingredient unique, and selects items to cook for a private meal with the guests. Based on how curious guests are about the local markets and ingredients, the time spent shopping can vary.
Throughout the day, guests will sample a variety of local culinary delights. They will have the opportunity to taste authentic Yucatecan delicacies in a local “fonda.” The group will drive to local grocery stores, where they will make a stop to refresh with a taste of craft beer. They will also visit a local market, where they can browse and purchase native handmade wares, drink coconut water and visit a tortilleria, where corn tortillas are produced.
After a final stop at a local tequila distillery, specializing in tequilas, mezcals and local wines, the guests return to the hotel’s Culinary Center, where Barba will use the ingredients they purchased to create a mouthwatering dinner. Guests will have the opportunity to participate in the meal preparations, following instructions in a cooking-class style.
A sample menu for The Real Cancun Culinary Experience could include a freshly made margarita; tomato-lime bisque; red snapper tikin xic; queso relleno with beef, chicken, and Queso Bola Edam cheese; peppered chicken with chickpeas, tomato, pickled onion and pork broth; and chocolate tamal and mamey ice cream.