Sunday, April 21, 2024

A Great Experience With Chef Hector’s ‘Peruvian Cooking Classes’

We’ve taken cooking classes in Lucca, Italy, Chiang Mai, Thailand, Singapore, and Jaipur, India, as well as on Oceania and Holland America cruise ships. Today’s multi-hour encounter with Chef Hector Aguilar Valle stands right at the top of the class, along with Yui in Chiang Mai, owner of “A Lot of Thai Home Cooking Class.”

Hector is a high energy professional chef who has worked in top-end restaurants in many parts of the world including San Francisco, Australia, Indonesia, and Columbia. 

He returned to his native Peru to be Creative Chef at a restaurant on a list of the “World’s 50 Best,” before realizing he could make more money and be his own boss by offering cooking classes to a variety of tourist, corporate, and chef clients.

We’re glad he did.

Shortly after 10:30 AM Sunday, we met up with Hector and a charming young Czech couple who were the only other members of our class. We entered a house literally across the street from the Huaca Pucllana Pyramid, and up we went to the open-air rooftop kitchen on a perfect day.

What followed was an intensive exploration of traditional Peruvian cuisine that included the preparation of two kinds of ceviche, raw and smoked, two kinds of causa, fish smoked in the pan on banana leaf, and two varieties of pisco sour, one including coca leaves.

Chef Hector made liberal use of a blowtorch to blister peppers before plunging them into cold water, as well as a blender and a simple hinged lime squeezer. He demonstrated the difference in taste between the gentle  “first press” juice of a lime and a traditionally squeezed lime, which was new and amazing to us.

He tasted at every step and demanded we do the same. He kept his two lady assistants busy washing dishes and fetching food and cooking utensils.

Chef Hector kept us all entertained while demonstrating some awesome knife technique and mixing us the first pisco sour of the day (we mixed the second with his guidance).

Eventually we sat down to a huge and delicious meal that we couldn’t possibly finish.

Causa? Yowsa! (Yes, it rhymes.)

A beautiful setting, congenial young “classmates,” an outstanding teacher, and a magnificent meal… it doesn’t get any better.

Thank you, Chef Hector, for a great day.


Anonymous said...

It was so nice meeting you, Kathy & Brian! A cooking class we won’t forget 🙌🏼😊 cheers from Caroline & Jacob

Kathy and Brian said...

The pleasure was ours, Caroline and Jacob.dDo let us know if you’re ever in our part of the world.

Bonnie said...

It sounds like so much fun… I have a bottle of pisco if you can make the drinks when you return?

Kathy and Brian said...

We learned that Peru and Chile debate who makes the best pisco. They are among the few brandies made from grapes, along with grappa, cognac and armagnac. With a 30-50% alcohol content, a standard drink with three ounces of pisco packs a wallop. We’ve never yet tried them in the Northern Hemisphere.