Culinary Students Learn from Yucatan Chefs
by Emilie Jenson, Public Information Office
Posted on 11/8/2023
Iowa Central Culinary students received hands on training in preparing Yucatan cuisine from some of the pros this week.
Mother-daughter chef duo Minelia Romero Mendoza and Paulina Espinosa, who came to Fort Dodge from the Mexican State of Yucatan through the Iowa Chapter of Partners of the Americas, spent two days working with the students in the Iowa Central kitchen preparing a meal for a fundraiser dinner for the Iowa-Yucatan Partnership. Minelia owns a successful event and catering business, Minelia Gourmet, in Merida, the capital city of the Yucatan State.
The kitchen was busy Tuesday morning as students hand peeled and minced garlic, chopped peppers and tomatoes, trimmed meat and prepared marinades, made dough for tortillas and tamales and cleaned banana leaves for the authentic dishes, which would be prepared and cooked on Wednesday to be served at the fundraiser Wednesday evening at Willow Ridge.
Students helped prepare the five-course meal featuring Yucatan favorites such as a Horchata con Tequila cocktail, Dzotobichay, a tamale like appetizer that is a Yucatan delicacy; Sopa de Lima, a Yucatan lime soup; a main dish of Cochinita Pibil, a barbecue pork dish with refried beans and Yucateca rice; and a dessert of Flan Napolitan.
“It is Yucatan’s most famous dish,” Espinosa said of the meal's main course.
Evan Presswood, a Triton Academy student taking culinary classes said it was a fun learning experience to make an authentic dish with native experts.
“It is pretty interesting and cool to have this experience,” Presswood said. “We make things from different countries, but they are from there and really know what they are doing.”
Geoffrey Phillipson, associate instructor of Culinary Arts said the international chef experience and mass food preparation is a good learning experience for the students.
“These students will not be intimidated by mass food preparation and caterings when they get into the business,” he said. “It is good teaching, and they will be able to say they have done it.”
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