A couple of months ago I received a desperate email. Friends who are owners of a Guadalajara B&B were frantically looking for a Mexican cooking school for clients who would arrive within the week. The answer was a no-brainer: Xilonen, the Guadalajara school of Mexican culinary traditions run by Chef Rose Marie Plaschinski, would fill the bill perfectly. My friends breathed a sigh of relief, their guests were ecstatic with their cooking adventure, and I made big points. The situation was win-win all the way around.
Culinary tourism is a hot item these days. Whether you're a recreational cook-tourist looking for a visceral way to understand a new culture, a home cook looking for a new twist on dinner, or a professional cook looking for ways to update a restaurant menu, the road to a man's (or woman's) heart is still definitely through the stomach.
Rose Marie Plaschinski is not your ordinary cooking school owner. A Guadalajara native, she knew from an early age that the kitchen was her passion. In high school, she often baked and sold cookies as a way to make extra money and she still dearly loves dessert preparation.
After studying at three of the most famous cooking schools in the world—the Cordon Bleu in Paris, the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, New York, and at the University of Mexico's Cultura Culinaria—she returned to Guadalajara to open her own cooking school, Cordón Rose.
We met recently to talk about her culinary life. Rose Marie chatted with me about her career and her decision to open Cordón Rose, and now Xilonen.
"All of my career, people have told me that I am a pioneer," Rose Marie began. "My original cooking school was the first to open in Guadalajara. Cordón Rose concentrated on the classic styles of cooking, and there are still no other schools in Guadalajara that prepare a professional chef in that way. Now there are many schools, more than twenty. But to find one of the high category of Cordón Rose?" Rose Marie lifted an eyebrow in doubt.
"When my children were a bit younger, I wanted them to live away from the hustle-bustle of Guadalajara. I thought they needed a slower life, closer to nature and closer to me. My work kept me away from them and I was afraid they would only know me as "that lady", not as their mother. I initially opened Xilonen in the country, about an hour and a half from Guadalajara. My children and I loved living there, but it was almost impossible for them to have a high-quality education in the nearest town. We decided to come back to the city for the sake of their school preparation. I moved the whole Xilonen operation back to Guadalajara."
"Xilonen is the Nahuatl name of the young goddess of corn. Corn is the mother of the cuisines of Mexico; corn has fed us for centuries and Xilonen the goddess is our nourishing mother. In gratitude to our mother, I call this new incarnation of my cooking school by her name.
Rose Marie commented, "You know, Xilonen isn't just about exquisite
food. I've been involved in the Slow Food International movement for
several years, and the movement's philosophy is part of Xilonen. You know that part of the Slow Food philosophy is a firm defense of quiet material pleasure, opposing the universal folly of Fast Life.
"My clients are mature people, people who understand that the beauty of our natural surroundings combines with the gentleness of the indoor atmosphere, which combines with the delightful surprises coming from the kitchen. The entire ambience creates a whole aura of relaxation and slowing down. Pleasures in the city, in the house, in the kitchen and at table are primary to a marvelous culinary vacation.
"Even though we're in the midst of Guadalajara, a city of more than 6,000,000, Xilonen's neighborhood is an island of peace. The streets are tree-lined, the pace is slow, and yet we're just minutes from Guadalajara's Centro Histórico (historic downtown area). Along with several plans tailored to our clients' cooking school requirements, Xilonen also offers sightseeing and tourism options.
A one-day Xilonen class features a trip to a typical market plus preparation of a dish or a meal. Set up for an individual or a couple, the class offers an intimate introduction to regional Mexican cooking, an opportunity to spend time honing your already well-used kitchen skills, and the close personal attention of Chef Rose Marie.
The one-week series of classes is much more detailed and features authentic regional recipes. Rose Marie herself guides students through preparing several full meals: drinks, appetizers, soups, main courses, and desserts. You'll learn the proper preparation of a margarita, an exciting guacamole made from perfectly ripe avocados, the preparation of authentic arroz a la mexicana (Mexican red rice), a salsa or two to add a touch of picante, and delicious desserts made from local ingredients. Of course the proof of the pudding is in the eating! Naturally you'll enjoy the fruits of your labor at Chef Rose Marie's elegant and very Mexican table.
For the culinary professional, Chef Rose Marie offers courses to update qualifications, ability to assess needs, product development, plan restaurant menus, and more. The professional can come to Mexico or invite Chef Rose Marie Plaschinski for a personal visit to your workplace. She has recently completed extensive consultation with the planners and owners of a new Mexican restaurant in Maryland. Her work there included numerous field visits to the United States.
All of you aficionados of Mexico's cuisines know that there are any number of cooking schools in the República which offer classes in the country's more esoteric foods: 37-ingredient moles which take days to prepare, guisdados made of mushrooms found in one corner of one Mexican state, et cetera. Chef Rose Marie can offer you classes in all of the esoterica, but if you want to cook what Mexico really eats, every day, Xilonen is the place to study. Rose Marie's prices compare very favorably with those of other Mexican cooking schools, she offers full accommodations for your stay in Guadalajara, and you'll be thrilled with her as well as with what you learn during your time at Xilonen.
Contact Xilonen here: Be sure to tell Chef Rose Marie hello from us at Mexico Cooks!