Hugh Carpenter

Culinary Camps in Napa Valley California, and San Miguel, Mexico

Camp San Miguel, Mexico—Our 10th Year

February 1-6, 2015
February 15-20, 2015
March 1-6, 2015

Announcing an exciting new development: We are offering these programs in association with the luxurious Casa Sierra Nevada Hotel and their beautiful cooking school and housewares shop, “Sazon.” Owned by the famed Orient Express, the hotel is a cluster of elegant colonial mansions in the heart of San Miguel de Allende, and offers flawless luxury in a magical Old World setting. They have made very attractive discounted room rates available to us, and we recommend you choose the Sierra Nevada hotel as your home away from home.

Join us for six days in this artist community for cooking classes, cultural events, shopping adventures, and grand dinners. Located high in the mountains north of Mexico City, this colonial town of 80,000 people (now a UNESCO World Heritage Site) was listed by Conde Nast Traveler as the 8th best travel destination in the world. Famous for its mild high desert climate and colonial architecture, San Miguel de Allende is known for its art galleries, craft shops, outdoor markets, art and language institutes, fine restaurants, and a large expatriate population drawn from throughout the world. It’s a town of cobblestone streets, pealing church bells, intense colors, and endless holy days, fiestas, and celebrations. Hugh and his wife, Teri Sandison, have been visiting San Miguel de Allende for years. They know many of San Miguel’s artists, writers, gallery owners, and townspeople, and have used these contacts to create an “insider’s” tour to one of the world’s most romantic and captivating small towns. Hugh and Teri are your hosts for every event throughout the week, each limited to only 12 people per session.

Note: UNESCO has honored Mexican cuisine with the first-ever award for Intangible Cultural Property. Read the UNESCO definition of Mexican cuisine online.

About the Dates: San Miguel is in the high desert country of central Mexico, about 6,000 feet above sea level. February and March attract many tourists from snowy North America. This is the “dry season” with crisp clear days. Evenings are in the mid-40s, while the afternoon temperatures are in the high 70s. It’s a magical time of year to visit San Miguel.

About Safety: San Miguel is small conservative Catholic town, far removed from the troubled border nearly 1,000 miles to the north. You’ll fly into the nearby airport in Leon and be met by a private driving service. Within 90 minutes, you’ll be walking along the cobblestone streets of San Miguel. In 7 years operating this program, none of our attendees has ever experienced any crime.

Class Itinerary

Saturday: We urge you to arrive a day early. This gives you time to orient yourself to the town and to have dinner with Hugh. We’ll meet for appetizers and a no-host dinner at one of San Miguel’s most sophisticated restaurants, Restaurant Moxi at Hotel Matilda.

Sunday: Opening Reception at Casa Sierra Nevada, Dinner at Restaurant Andanza. If you arrived on Saturday, we recommend you take the “House Tour” Sunday at noon. This gives you a chance to “see behind the doors” of three great houses and then have time in the afternoon to explore the town. Tonight we gather at Casa Sierra Nevada’s courtyard garden overlooking the pool for our opening reception and appetizers. Then we’ll be treated to contemporary Mexican haute-cuisine at the Sierra Nevada restaurant, Andanza. The flavor-intense sauces are more European inspired, and the restaurant specializes in meat, game, and fresh fish. After dinner, we’ll walk a short distance to the town square (“centro” or “jardin”) to enjoy the beautiful view of the cathedral, listen to mariachi bands at every corner, and watch the vibrant night life. (D)

Monday: Cooking with Hugh at Sazon, Market Tour, Dinner at MX Restaurant. Our morning begins as we gather at Sazon, centrally located just one block from the jardin. It is in this beautifully arranged indoor/outdoor cooking layout set inside an 18th-century colonial building that we will gather for our cooking. All the classes this week are taught by Hugh, are full participation, and are based on a cookbook he is writing featuring innovative Mexican cooking that can be easily duplicated in North American homes. The class today specializes in chiles, peppers, salsas, and the world of avocados. We’ll spend about two hours cooking together, followed by lunch served in the garden courtyard. After lunch we will be led by the Executive Chef of the Sierra Nevada, Emanuel Cervantes, on a market tour where we will gather ingredients for the Tuesday morning cooking class. Remainder of the afternoon free. This evening we have dinner at MX Restaurant. This is a stylish restaurant serving great food in a contemporary dining environment. (L,D)

Tuesday: Cooking with Hugh at Sazon, the Church at Atotonilco, Pottery Shopping at Dolores Hidalgo, and Artists Gary and Annemarie Slipper. This morning we return to Sazon for another full-participation cooking class, followed by lunch. Today’s class centers on tropical fruits, contemporary marinades, and flavor-intense sauces for meats and seafood that are to be roasted, grilled, or cooked on the outdoor smoker. After lunch we’ll tour the UNESCO World Heritage site, the Church of Atontonilco, which has undergone a long restoration. It is utterly unlike any other Catholic church. Then we’ll drive a short distance to Dolores Hidalgo, famous for its pottery. We’ll visit the two best pottery shops and eat ice cream on the town square before returning to San Miguel. Early this evening, we visit the studio and home of artists Gary and Annemarie Slipper, whose art is collected internationally. Gary’s art is richly lined drawings and paintings of countless figures set in mythic or fantasy settings. Annemarie works as a bronze sculptor and also does architectural works on panels of metal. The Slippers are utterly charming and wonderful hosts. Your evening is free to enjoy San Miguel’s many restaurants. Or join Hugh and Teri at one of their favorite spots. (L)

Wednesday: Cooking with Hugh at Sazon, a Visit to the “Design Center” of San Miguel. This morning we return to Sazon for our third participation cooking class taught by Hugh, perhaps with the appearance of a famous chef who will do a short cooking demo! This afternoon, those with a passionate interest in Mexican folk art can visit the contemporary estate of folk art collectors Mayer Schacter and Susan Page. Their folk art collection is world-class. Plus, they have a large gallery of folk art they have collected over the years that is for sale. Later, we will rendezvous at San Miguel’s Design Center, La Aurora. This cluster of art galleries, antique shops, and studios is housed in what was for many years a textile mill. For flagging spirits, there are pastries and cappuccinos! The remainder of the afternoon and evening is free. Or join Hugh and Teri at one of their favorite restaurants. (L)

Thursday: DaNisha Gallery, Cooking Class, Lunch at Rancho de la Capilla, and Toller Cranston. Our day begins with a visit to DaNisha Sculpture Gallery. Husband and wife Dan and Nisha create unique ceramic art that is collected internationally by such notables as former President Clinton! After our visit, we’ll travel outside town to Rancho de la Capilla. This is a private and secluded 18th-century rancho that was lovingly restored by Kathy Lichter and Steve Zazula. They will be our hosts for an authentic Mexican traditional lunch prepared by three talented rancho cooks. This is going to be fun! It’s an utterly glorious setting. And Kathy and Steve are wonderful hosts! After a leisurely lunch, we’ll return to town for more shopping adventures. Late this afternoon we’ll visit one of San Miguel’s most colorful and prolific artists, Toller Cranston, and owner of one of the great properties in San Miguel. He is a former World Champanion Figure Skating Champion, and an Olympic medalist who painted throughout his skating career. After our visit, your evening is free to enjoy San Miguel’s many restaurants, or join Hugh and Teri for a no-host dinner at one of their favorite places. (L)

Friday: Cooking with Hugh at Sazon, Jewelry Shopping, Graduation Dinner at The Restaurant. This morning we meet a little earlier in the morning at Sazon for a Mexican cooking class taught by Hugh. There are many famous regional dishes in Colonial Mexico, and we will make six of these (small tastes of each!). The afternoon hours are free for you to take care of last-minute shopping or enjoy other adventures. Our evening begins with a visit to the beautiful home of jeweler Bill Harris and Howard Haynes. We’ll tour the property, enjoy a glass of wine, hear their wonderful stories of life in San Miguel, and jewelry shop! Then we go for our “Graduation Dinner” to The Restaurant at Sollano #16. This is San Miguel’s top restaurant. Chef-Owner Donnie Masterton will do a dinner blending both rustic and refined Mexican country cooking—all dishes not on the menu and cooked by Donnie for us. As we savor the food, we’ll lift our glasses, make farewell toasts, and recall our adventures. (L,D)

Saturday: This is a travel day home, or you may decide to extend your stay in Mexico. We hope you return to visit us again in San Miguel.