Gastronomic journey with Australian chef Peter Kuruvita.

Client: World Expeditions; an Australian travel agency specialized in active adventure holidays across the world.

Brief

The client asked us to plan and operate a program including exclusive and authentic gastronomic experiences in Mexico, with unique encounters with local people and visits to off-the-beaten-track places.

 

Where / What?

For this group we organized a trip through Mexico´s Southeast, offering a wide variety of gastronomic experiences representing Mexico´s culinary richness. The group was accompanied by Peter Kuruvita, a renowned Australian chef who filmed popular cooking series for the Australian television about Mexican gastronomy; a Mexican guide throughout the program, as coordinator, interpreter and for more insights on historical and cultural backgrounds; and by local guides, to explain local traditions in more detail. Transportation was provided with a deluxe coach and we picked hotels with couleur locale, from charming colonial buildings to a luxurious hacienda.

 

In Mexico City, the group visited the Central de Abastos, we cooked in a trajinera in Xochimilco, and had the opportunity to contrast rural cuisine in Teotihuacan with the contemporary flavors in one of Mexico´s most renowned restaurants. Participants also enjoyed a Mexican Fiesta at Plaza Garibaldi, including a tequila tasting, a cocktail workshop, a tasting of some typical dishes, and mariachi music with piñatas.

 

During their visit in Puebla, participants had a cooking class in a local home in Cholula, organized by a local university, with local dishes such as Mole Poblano. In the state of Oaxaca, they discovered the flavor of an artisanal mezcal in a typical Mezcaleria, learned about the seven Moles of Oaxaca, and visited local markets. They were also guests in a rustic kitchen hosted by a local señora in a rural community. Participants continued to Chiapas, where they visited a coffee plantation from an indigenous cooperative, followed by a seafood grill on the beach in Campeche. Finally in Yucatan, the group witnessed a food blessing ceremony, cooked with Maya people, had a pick-nick in the garden of an authentic hacienda, and prepared typical dishes such as Cochinita Pibil.

 

How?

When we received the request for proposal from the client, we offered three different conceptual routes (Northern Mexico, Central Mexico, and the Southeast). We created these itineraries together with local contacts and suppliers, integrating the client brief, our suggestions and ideas, and local proposals. After the client decided to commercialize the proposal for the Southeastern route, we started to fine-tune the program together with local operators until we reached a unique itinerary with in-depth gastronomic experiences. After acceptance by client, hotel reservations were made and we kept working on improving the proposed activities. During this process we had constant contact with local suppliers for ensuring quality. Two months before the group’s arrival, we had inspection visits in Merida, Campeche, San Cristobal de las Casas, Oaxaca, Puebla and Mexico City. In that moment we defined the last details directly with locals. During the whole trip we had daily contact with the group through the guide who represented SAT Mexico.

 

Challenges

Our first challenge was creating and combining an integrated product that matched the special requirements of this travelling group, with exclusive, off-the-beaten-track, authentic gastronomic experiences. For this, we had to be innovative and original, to think out of the box, to investigate Mexico´s culinary heritage, and to apply concepts into a feasible itinerary. For a well integrated product, we needed to be in constant communication with local suppliers.

 

During the trip, the group faced an inconvenience caused by a road blockade in Oaxaca (organized by local protesters). This situation asked for quick problem solving so that the group could continue their trip while minimizing the effects on the program.