Set in the heart of our six-acre farm, Rancho La Puerta’s Cooking School hosts cooking classes that celebrate the magic that happens whenever good cooks use just-picked local, seasonal, organically grown ingredients. The colors, aromas, and tastes are nothing short of amazing. This sensory experience, combined with your opportunity to cook side-by-side with great teaching chefs and then sit down to a fine, abundant meal you helped prepare, provides an unforgettable culinary experience.
Celebrating the Seasons at Rancho La Puerta…our new cookbook honors the vision of our cooking school, La Cocina Que Canta (“The Kitchen That Sings”)…
Kitchen Conversations with our Guest Chefs / Teachers…
Rancho La Puerta food blogger Caron Golden chats with some of the well-known chefs that come to teach at La Cocina… Read on…it's just like being there in class!
Alisa Barry: Nourish and Nurture
Alisa Barry isn't your typical Rancho La Puerta cooking instructor. She'll tell you herself, "My food is not 'spa food.' I come from the Julia Child school of cookiing…[read more and view photos]
Deborah Madison: Food and the Deeper Self
On teaching days at La Cocina Que Canta, typically students arrive for a class, the instructor presents a quick intro to what will be happening during the session, and then everyone grabs a straw hat and heads out to the fields…[read more and view photos]
Robin Asbell: The Enlightened Hedonist
As Robin Asbell walked back to La Cocina Que Canta from the nearby fields where several of us had just squealed with delight picking leeks and basil, she chuckled…[read more and view photos]
Custom-built by skilled masons, tile masters, and other artisans, the
4,500-square-foot hacienda-style center is the colorful and creative
home of Ranch chef Gonzalo Mendoza, guest teaching chefs from around
the world, and the school’s friendly staff. In addition, La Cocina regularly
hosts renowned guest culinary experts, cookbook authors, and teaching
chefs, including such stars of the cooking world as Deborah Madison and
Patricia Wells. Retired Golden Door chef Michel Stroot is a regular teacher,
as is chef and cookbook author Deborah Schneider, co-author of Rancho
La Puerta’s newest cookbook, which was nominated for a James
Beard award in 2009.
Weekday classes emphasize the hands-on experience. Students gather around an immense chopping block island and work side by side with the chef and his assistants to prepare a full lunch or dinner. Conversation, questions, and laughter fill the room, along with the savory scents of garlic, rosemary, roasting peppers, cumin, and the other “Mexican-Mediterranean” flavors. Cooking completed, everyone sits down at long tables to enjoy the fruits of their labor, along with a sampling of wines from the nearby Valle de Guadalupe wine country in Baja California.
“Saturdays at the Ranch”—a one-day culinary experience, fitness and spa adventure for our neighbors in San Diego and northern Baja California.
In addition to its organic-farm setting, the La Cocina experience includes La Tiendita (a small gift shop), tours of the garden, a culinary library (soon), outdoor dining beside a rock fireplace (on occasion), and breakfasts prepared several times a week for Rancho La Puerta guests who are on the resort’s famous “breakfast hike.”
The feeling at La Cocina is magical… and unlike any other cooking experience in North America. Bird songs drift through flower-bedecked courtyards and open-air porches and patios. Rows of organically grown fruits and vegetables are literally just steps from the door. The blue-green slopes of Mt. Kuchumaa rise above the farm and school, and its proximity provides a mystical sense of ancient traditions and the forces of nature: The mountain has been a sacred site of Native Americans for thousands of years. But most important are the friendly and delighted smiles: of our staff and soon, we hope—you!
Rancho La Puerta guests have the option of taking one or more hands-on or demonstration classes at La Cocina Que Canta.
- La Cocina Hands-on Lunch Cooking Class $80 + Tax
- La Cocina Hands-on Dinner Cooking Class $85 + Tax
Approximately 16 students maximum
The La Cocina Team
- La Cocina Designer and President: Sarah Livia Szekely Brightwood
- Executive Chef and Manager: Denise Roa
Executive Chef Denise Roa deliciously fuses the culinary and cultural heritages of her own life with the healthful "spa cuisine" pioneered by Rancho La Puerta. Chef Roa began her culinary journey at Johnson & Wales University in Miami. She moved to San Diego and began a successful career working for several of the region's most respected restaurants, including Pacifica Del Mar, Crescent Shores Grille, Del Mar Thoroughbred Club, and Hilton Torrey Pines. Her own restaurant La Trattoria was a local favorite for years. She has also been an instructor at Art Institute of San Diego, training over 500 culinary students to date in essential skills.
- Head Gardener: Salvador Tinajero
...and many others, including our talented sous-chef teaching staff and guest celebrity chefs.