Cusco, Peru is not only the gateway to Machu Picchu but also a world-renown cuisine destination. There are several great restaurants in Cusco, including some of the best in the world. One bite of some fantastic Peruvian cuisine and you will want to learn how to make the dishes and enjoy them at home. In fact, there are several different cooking classes to attend and enjoy. Attending a cooking class in Cusco was on Shelby’s (my little sister) list of things to do during our trip. So, we found the best cooking class in Cusco, Cusco Culinary!
Cusco is known for its delicious Peruvian cuisines such as chicken, ceviche and potatoes. One bite of an authentic Peruvian dish and you will want to learn how to make it at home. Therefore, if you have a few days in Cusco during your trip to Peru, we highly recommend you take a cooking class at Cusco Culinary. You will not only have a great experience with the chef at the market and studio, but you will be able to take home the recipes and knowledge for a four-course dinner meal.
Full disclaimer – We were offered a generous discount by Cusco Culinary for our cooking class in Cusco. As always, our opinions are non-biased and our own. We want to thank Cusco Culinary for their generosity and for everyone following and supporting us on all of “Our Sweet Adventures.”
Why Cusco Culinary is the Best Cooking Class in Cusco
When you are looking for a cooking class in Cusco, you want to find a company that values the local community, farmers and producers. Why? Cusco Culinary recognizes this dedication to Peruvian cuisine and applies it to their Cusco cooking class. They only use organic produce grown in the Andean communities near Cusco, such as the Urubamba Valley and Amaru.
In addition to their respect and quality care in their produce, Cusco Culinary provides their guest’s with a full Peruvian experience during their cooking class. It includes a visit to the San Pedro Market to see the variety of produce in Peru, as well as learning about the produce and ingredients from your chef. This is one of the highlights of the cooking class because it’s an intimate experience being immersed in the local community. Then you head to their cooking studio and prepare pisco sours along with a four-course lunch or dinner. The entire experience lasts around four to five hours and costs $69 per person.
San Pedro Market
A cooking class in Cusco is not complete without a visit to one of the city’s most notable markets, San Pedro Market. Moreover, even if you do not do a cooking class, going to the San Pedro Market is one of the best things to do in Cusco. Inside the San Pedro Market is a mix of culinary ingredients and souvenirs. It has the feeling of a farmers market but on a much larger scale. There are several local farmers at their stands selling everything they produce i.e. meat, fruits, vegetables, cheese, bread and more.
We were very excited to hear that our cooking class in Cusco would begin by meeting our chef, Jesus, at San Pedro Market. Chef Jesus took us into San Pedro Market for a Peruvian culinary tour of knowledge. He explained the different varieties of fruit grown in Peru and the ones we would be working with during our cooking class. We were able to taste different passion fruits that we had never seen before. Each one looked and tasted so different – it was amazing. Chef Jesus also took us to see the cheese, bakery and chocolate aisles. He would talk with such passion every time he showed us something unique to Peruvian cuisine. It was very inspiring to see his passion for Peruvian cuisine that we became even more excited for our Cusco cooking class.
After our visit to the San Pedro Market, we walked to Cusco Culinary’s cooking studio for around ten to fifteen minutes. Their cooking studio is absolutely beautiful. We definitely felt immersed in Peru’s culture with the atmosphere Cusco Culinary created in their studio.
The white marble table was in the center of the studio with bar stools around it. Then to the side of the marble table was a long wooden dining table where we would sit and eat our four-course dinner. Everything was ready for us, all we had to do was watch and learn. Chef Jesus and his assistant always made the experience as easy as possible for us. We always had our own cooking utensils to prepare every course. Then they would clear our cooking utensils and any mess that (Adam) would make and provide us with clean utensils for our next project. The entire night was well organized to create a fun learning environment for us.
Learning How to Make Pisco Sours
The first thing we learned during our cooking class in Cusco was the famous Peruvian drink, pisco sour. We not only learned about the traditional pisco sour, but also ways to enhance it! Chef Jesus elevates the traditional pisco sour by using the Peruvian passion fruit he showed us at San Pedro Market. This was Shelby’s highlight of the entire cooking experience as she was eager to learn and taste the famous cocktail. However, it ended up being a favorite experience for all of us.
Making pisco sours was a lot of fun and surprisingly very easy to make. After learning from Chef Jesus, we are confident that we can throw the best pisco sour cocktail party!
First Course – Ceviche
The first course of our cooking class in Cusco was Peru’s national dish, ceviche! Ceviche is raw fish cured in an acidic juice such as, lime or lemon. Then the fish is accompanied by different ingredients per taste. Cusco, is not the only culinary destion for ceviche in Peru. There are several restaurnts in Lima, Peru that excel in Ceviche.
Cusco Culinary took us on a grand ceviche adventure where we were able to learn and create three different ceviche recipes. The types were: classic, asian style and their ancestral way with tumbo (Peruvian fruit). We each started with slicing our fresh trout very thinly like sashimi (thank goodness no one cut themselves). Then we were given one of the types of ceviche to make. During our lesson, we were surprised to learn that Peruvians only marinate their fish in the juice for five minutes. In the United States, we have to marinate it our fish a lot longer, so it was interesting to see the difference.
The final touches on the ceviche included Peruvian corn nuts for a contrast of texture. Each type of ceviche was fresh, unique and delightful, but the traditional and asian style were our favorites.
Second Course – Moraya and Potato Cake with Tarwi
Cusco Culinary is all about showing their guests the best of Peruvian cuisine, so for our second course we learned about moraya and tarwi. Moraya is a dehydrated potato used by the Andean community to conserve and store potatoes for a long period of time. Tarwi is an edible and spicy bean grown in the Andes and used within the community.
We created our potato cake by slicing our regular and moraya potatoes and layering them in a tin foil cup with cheese and an evaporated milk mixture. Delicate work went into our potato cakes to make six perfect layers. Then we baked it while we started preparing the tarwi sauce.
Once it was baked to perfection, we placed our potato cake on top of our tarwi sauce and garnished with sprouts. We found the potato cake to be very similar to Au Gratin potatoes, but with exceptional new flavors. The dish was well balanced and we loved the vibrant color of the tarwi sauce.
Third Course – Mushroom Quinotto
We learned a lot during our cooking class in Cusco, especially how excellent the Peruvians are in elevating simple ingredients to create delicious dishes. Quinoa is a high protein grain used for centuries in the Andes. Quinotto is simply quinoa cooked in the style of risotto, an Italian dish. Simple, yet pure genius!
With the exception of the pisco sours, cooking this dish was the most fun. We were able to cook the quinotto over the fire and torch creamy cheese on top. Although we do not like quinoa, we truly enjoyed this dish and found it quite filling. It was extremely hearty from the high protein quinoa and mushrooms. Definitely a healthy dish we are excited to prepare at home.
Fourth Course – Cherimoya Cream with Praline
Alas, our favorite course during any meal, dessert. This course was surprisingly the most interesting one for us. Once again, Cusco Culinary creates another dish that emphasizes on their cuisine by using an Andean fruit, cherimoya. Cherimoya is grown 1500 – 2000 meters above sea level and has one of the most unique flavors we’ve ever tasted. There is no distinctive flavor per se, but more of a mix of tropical flavors of bananas, mango, papaya and a hint of strawberry. We used the cherimoya to create a cream as the base of our dessert.
We also used another local fruit (cannot remember the name) into small pieces and placed them into a martini glass. Then we added our luscious cherimoya cream on top, followed by our crushed almond praline. For finishing touches, we garnished our dessert with an open golden berry.
What we really enjoyed about this Peruvian dessert was tasting new fruits that can only be found in Peru. The dessert was well balanced using only the natural sweetness from the fruits keeping it light and refreshing. In addition, there was a sweet, nutty contrast of texture from the almond praline. Overall, we thoroughly enjoyed it!
Recipes of your Cooking Class in Cusco
One of the best parts about Cusco Culinary is that they email you the recipes from the cooking class. The recipes are in both English and Spanish and take you step by step through the process of each course. In addition, it also includes the information of the Peruvian ingredients. We took in a lot of knowledge in our lovely four hours of cooking with Chef Jesus, so we were thrilled to find he included everything in our recipe packet. Now we can recreate every delicious dish at home with ease!
Our Overall Experience with Cusco Culinary
Overall we had an amazing experience with Cusco Culinary. It was everything we wanted and more out of our cooking class in Cusco. Chef Jesus created a fantastic learning environment. The class was very engaging from teaching us about the produce, to teaching us culinary techniques. We really enjoyed being able to be hands on in every process of cooking our dishes.
We cannot say enough great words about our experience with Cusco Culinary. If you are looking to take a cooking class in Cusco, we highly recommend Cusco Culinary!
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