Interview with Chef Luis Felipe Barocio Castro from Culinaria Cooking School.
The team with the Chef Luis Felipe Barocio in his office in Merida
Unfortunately the interview was lost due to a tape fault in our recorder. Here a reconstruction of the main points that we established immediately afterwards.
What does the school offer ?
My school opened four years ago, it offers degrees in gastronomy – this takes three years - as well as shorter classes. We have around 70 students. Most of the students come from states all across Mexico, some tourists, mostly Americans and some from Latin-America,
come for shorter classes. My school does foods from around the world, has twelve chefs who specialise - and sometimes have been educated/are nationals - in Euopean (French, Spanish) and Asian (Chinese, Japanese) cuisine.
Do you think the Yucatecan cuisine has been influenced by the Caribbean cuisine or vice-versa ?
I think the Yucatecan cuisine is quite unique. It is different from all of Mexico. Spices and ingredients are influenced by the Caribbean cusine, but there is not so much seafood as in Caribbean cusine. I really would like to emphasize on this point, since Yucatecan cuisine has only a few fish dishes, even though we all live very close to the sea.
Where do you get the ingredients for your cooking classes ?
We usually try to use food from the places where the recipies come from. Thus we try to use Yucatecan ingredients for Yucatecan food. We source meat from a butcher in Cancun, sometimes we go to the market but most of the time we buy the rest of the meat in a wholesale market.
What do you think of fast food in Merida ?
Fast food is bad and expensive. Fast food costs about 60 pesos, cocina economica around 40 pesos. I believe peoples eating habits are changed by advertisments. Especially adolescents are influenced by advertisment on TV. Fast food chains offer the most recent toys associated with films etc. People in general loose their old established eating habits. In Merida it was the tradition to have on Mondays a special dish, puerco con frijoles (pork with beans) and on Tuesday a different one and so on. But people do not eat, as traditionally, a more balanced diet for example a different dish every day and go increasingly to fast food chains. Thereby they do not save time, but lose the precious time that they had spent before. Globalisation changes these eating habits by having a more American food intake. I think it also changes the taste of people for more food, which means more fast food and also at the margin more international food.
How much does it cost to follow your classes ?
It costs 300 dolars per month to be a regular student, all inclusive (ingrendients, knifes, etc.) and there are also specific classes, which costs 75 dollars per week. Also I am going to open a Restaurant linked to the school in September which will be a good place for recent Graduates to start working.