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Celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month with Discover Mexico cooking series

Chef Alma Fernanda

According to Mexican-American chef Alma Fernanda, there’s so more to Mexican cuisine than the stereotypical tacos, burritos and chips and salsa we love so much here in San Diego.

“In itself, [Mexico] is a country that has many, many types of food. It’s not like other countries where all the flavors might be the same. Every region has its own gastronomy,” she explained during a phone call to discuss her collaboration with Discover Mexico, a series of cooking classes taking place weekly during Hispanic Heritage Month (Sept. 15 through Oct. 15).

On Sept. 16 (Mexican Independence Day), Chef Alma will lead a cooking class (virtually, of course) in conjunction with Tequila Herradura and Impastiamo classes. Chef Alma’s class will teach viewers how to make one of her specialties: Tequila Orange Shrimp Skewers with Spiked Guacamole (that’s guacamole with tequila added) featuring Tequila Herradura’s blanco tequila. (While the class is sold out, a recording of the class will be available on impastiamoclasses.com).

Chef Alma's Tequila Orange Shrimp Skewers.
Chef Alma’s Tequila Orange Shrimp Skewers.

Other featured chefs participating in the Discover Mexico series are Edgar Santiago and Paulina Lopez-Velazquez, who will teach viewers to make Alitas de Coloradito con Tamarindo y Tequila (or mole chicken wings) on Sept. 23; Gabriela Cámara, who will teach viewers how to make Tostada Vegetariana on Sept. 30 and Ruffo Ibarra, who will teach viewers how to make Pollo Ultra Enfiestado con Doña Margarita on Oct. 7.

Chef Alma hails from San Diego, but grew up on both sides of the border. She loves sharing her culture with others as a way to connect through food. And since we aren’t able to travel as freely due to the pandemic, virtual cooking classes are a way to experience a different culture without leaving your home.

Chef Alma’s mission to is “give people the power or have them realize that they don’t need to go to a fancy restaurant or travel the world to try different things. They can do it at home. They can experiment and trust themselves, and it’s also a learning experience where they learn things about themselves and they expand their horizons in the kitchen and try new things and are not afraid to go outside their comfort zone.”

“I think that [cooking] definitely opens up your world. For me, where I get most of my inspiration is traveling. And then learning from different cultures, learning from different kinds of foods, trying different ingredients. And for me, I feel like it’s a way to connect with the rest of the world. And then doing this Discover Mexico event, I think it’s a great chance for people to get to know the different flavors that Mexico can offer.”

Chef Alma was approached by Silvia Carluccio, the founder of Impastiamo classes, to collaborate on the Discover Mexico series. Impastiamo (meaning “we knead” in Italian) is an online class portal started in April as Covid began taking hold and the world shut down. Carluccio came up with the idea of starting Impastiamo because of a desire to help people in the restaurant industry who suddenly found themselves without jobs. Carluccio’s background as an event and festival planner for Live Nation enabled her to begin planning cooking events and classes virtually.

While the series of classes for Discover Mexico are free to attend, ingredient kits can be purchased ahead of time, with the proceeds of sales of those kits going to No Us Without You, a non-profit offering food security for undocumented restaurant workers and their families.

Chef Alma says the best way to keep up with her is on Instagram at @chefalmafernanda, where she shares cooking tips, classes and free recipes with her followers. To sign up for an upcoming Discover Mexico class, visit impastiamoclasses.com/discover-mexico.


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