Joyful Cooking at Buen Provecho Cooking School

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Denise Elliott is a Chef and Renée Lagloire is a Social Anthropologist.  Denise has been teaching culinary classes since 1986 at Santa Rosa Junior College.  She also owned and operated a wholesale bakery in Sonoma County for 20 years.  She has a passion for Mexican cuisine, and for teaching.  Renée has been a practicing anthropologist since 1986, and is fascinated with the history and sociology of the native foods of Mexico.  Together Renee and Denise came to La Paz, created Buen Provecho, and are now offering Mexican cooking classes. Conveniently located in central La Paz, Buen Provecho launched in January 2013, under the tutelage of Juli Goff, Director of Se Habla … La Paz.  Juli saw the need for culinary classes, and explains:

“At Se Habla … La Paz, we offer students a cultural experience through language lessons and home stays with local families.  I’d been looking for ways to deepen that experience with cooking classes.  Looking back, it seems that when Denise and I connected, it was a natural to develop cooking classes”.

Renée, a life-long friend (and camping buddy) of Denise’s, was enchanted with the idea of integrating culinary anthropology with cooking classes and joined the team.  “It’s been amazing to see Buen Provecho go from ideas that we hatched in Juli’s living room to actual classes,” she said.  Denise has also been very excited about Buen Provecho, saying: “What makes these culinary classes different is that we really emphasize getting to know the ingredients, their history, and how to use, and store them.”

A typical class begins with a short lecture focused on ingredients on the menu of the day that may not be familiar to the students, such as pasilla, hoja santa, chayote or achiote.  Then the students are invited to look around the kitchen so they know where knives and towels, and bowls and blenders are stored.  Divided into teams of two or three, they read over their assignment and the recipes, discuss their approach, and proceed to make various dishes on the menu.
Cooking at Buen Provecho is a sensory experience, with sounds of chopping and sizzling, and scents of chile, onion, vanilla and cinnamon wafting through the kitchen.  The meal at the end of each class offers a range of dishes cooked by different teams.  It is all amazingly delicious!
Since Buen Provecho opened in January, over 70 students have participated in classes.  When asked for feedback about their class, the majority of respondents said they were very satisfied.  One student, echoing others, expressed:   “Cooking at Buen Provecho was a joyful experience.”  Another wrote:
“Hard to say what I liked best:  Renee’s background info on various ingredients; jumping right in and cooking a couple of dishes with a partner (with great support from Denise); the new, well-equipped kitchen; going home with some great recipes; and of course, enjoying a delicious meal that night.  What’s intangible is how the process has emboldened me to try unfamiliar dishes and new recipes – I’m now more adventurous in my cooking.”
Yet another wrote:  “Our group had a GREAT class. We learned lots and had fun doing it. If you love to cook and you love Mexico…what are you waiting for?  You don’t want to miss all this fun and great food!”
Denise and Renée invite you to join one of their classes starting up on October 29th, 2013. For more information, see the Buen Provecho web site, “Like” Buen Provecho La Paz on Facebook, call 122-6409, or e-mail
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