Editor’s note: I suffered from a severe case of envy in January of this year. I wanted to go on the journey Lon will tell you about, but a homeowner’s nightmare caused me to reconsider. I followed it via Instagram and Facebook, just as I had done with an earlier trip the ICAEF took to Ireland. If you ever have the opportunity—go, go, go! Don’t let a broken sewer line (my nightmare) keep you from it! —Kathleen
The International Caterers Association Education Foundation (ICAEF) plans and produces Culinary Learning Journeys (CLJ) as an educational opportunity for caterers both nationally and internationally. These educational trips serve as a culinary and cultural occasion for caterers and raises money for scholarships awarded to deserving caterers to continue their culinary education.
The most recent journey, “Hidden Flavors of Mexico,” was held January 19–28, 2022, organized and expertly planned by Ingrid Nagy, the CLJ chairwoman in conjunction with and produced by Eric Alvarez and the team of Destination Management Services of Mexico.
We began our journey with the vibrancy of Mexico City then traveled Southeast to Oaxaca. We explored the cultural and culinary offerings of Chapultepec, Coyoacán, Puebla, Cholula, and more! From molé to tacos to fine Mexican dining, chocolate, Mexican wine, beer, and mezcal and tequila, our closely-knit group explored local food markets, bakeries, and shops, but also castles and Baroque churches embellished with gold.
Several of our accommodations were convents converted into lovely hotels. The breakfasts were terrific, and the lush landscaping, flowers, and fountains were a treat for the senses.
We visited indigenous ruins, pyramids, and a chocolate factory. We enjoyed a behind-the-scenes tour of a Talavera pottery factory, a mezcal plantation tour, and a tasting. We explored Freida Kahlo’s Blue House; learned how to make molé; and enjoyed an afternoon of taquerias and cantinas.
We devoted a day to a World Heritage Site of Xochimilco, where we boarded traditional Trajineras and motored to a small Island called Chinampa for a farm-to-table lunch. All created just for our group.
Photo courtesy Cade Nagy.
Our closing day was a recreation of the “Day of the Dead” celebration, all orchestrated and designed just for us. We learned the festival’s history, built altars to honor those in our lives who have passed, and then celebrated into the night with traditional food and drink.
Lifelong friendships are forged during this travel time together. Our attendees came home with many culinary ideas, presentation styles, and recipes to incorporate into their daily business. The ICAEF Culinary Learning Journeys provide an atmosphere for peer-to-peer discussions relative to best business practices, sharing ideas and fellowship that lasts far beyond the closing night.
Visit our website, click on our page, to learn more about the Foundation and check out our upcoming CLJ’s.
We would love to travel with you!