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Oaxacan cooking - Traditions Mexico Tours
Trip Features

Cooking with cookbook author and TV host, Susana Trilling

Hands on instruction with traditional Zapotec cooks and urban pros alike
Five days of cooking workshops
Visits to local markets
A trip to the quesillo capital of the world
Sampling of tejate, the pre-hispanic power drink
Explore pre-Colombian ruins
Stay in colonial Oaxaca
Mescal tasting

Flavors of Oaxaca, A Culinary Tour with Professional Chef Scott Thornton . . .
November 7-16 , 2009


Enliven your senses with the rich smells, tastes, colors and textures of Oaxaca’s legendary cooking!


Chef Scott Thornton and Traditions Mexico team up to bring you a cooking tour introducing you to some of the best authentic Mexican food coming from the mega diverse state of Oaxaca. Here the depth and intactness of the indigenous cuisine is the basis for a thousand good meals. We work with a variety food specialists, including professional restaurant chefs, cuisine instructors, traditional cooks, cheese makers, mescal distillers and pre-Colombian power drink brewers in the course of this 10-day workshop. We’ll provide a tasty sampling of local cuisine and send you home with some ideas and tricks you can put to work in your own kitchen.








Chef Scott ThorntonChef Scott is a Certified Personal Chef, a Certified Culinary Inspirations Instructor and a Teaching Chef for Chefs USA. He is a graduate of The Culinary Business Academy, USPCA Premier Member, and a graduate of Seasons of My Heart Culinary Class in Oaxaca, Mexico. His clients have given him the highest praise, and class participants follow him from venue to venue.

Chef Scott is a retired corporate CEO, with over 35 years of international travel and living experiences. He was an avocational chef for many years before starting his own Personal Chef Service in 2002.


Where Oaxaca, Mexico, and surrounding valleys
When November 7-16, 2009
Duration 9 nights, 10 days
Cost $2,485, Single Supplement: $325
Trip Guides Scott Thornton, Joshua Sage


Day 1, Saturday Nov. 7, (D): Arrive in Oaxaca. Evening meeting and group dinner.

Day 2, Sunday Nov. 8, (B,L,D):Today will be spent cooking with the Gonzalez family, a traditional Zapotec family in the village of Teotitlán del Valle. Our experience begins, like any good cooking experience, at market. This being Sunday, we’ll head to one of the best markets of them all, the huge, weekly Tlacolula Sunday market. With our cooking host from the Gonzalez family, we will immerse ourselves in the swirling, wonderful and even overwhelming world of the Sunday market to see how shopping has been done for the last few thousand years here. Loaded with ingredients, we will head to the Gonzalez home to prepare lunch (including tortilla making) and eat it. After lunch we may take time to visit some of the famous rug weaving workshops in Teotitlán before returning to Oaxaca. Overnight in Oaxaca.

Day 3, Monday Nov. 9, (B,L): Today we have a very different cooking experience. We will spend the day with cookbook author and host of a 13-part PBS series on Oaxacan cooking, Susana Trilling. Susana has spent years traveling throughout the immensely cuisine-diverse state of Oaxaca learning local recipes and cooking methods. She now runs the Seasons of My Heart cooking school, and we’ll spend the day there putting together a multi-course, very Oaxacan meal, which we will then devour! In the afternoon we return to Oaxaca city. After a short tour to orient you, we'll turn you loose to explore this charming colonial city on your own.

Ruins at Mitla - Traditions Mexico Tours
Ruins at Mitla

Day 4, Tuesday Nov. 10,  (B,L): We will spend the morning with experienced chef and owner of the popular restaurant La Olla, Pilar Cabrera, who will give you an opportunity to learn hands-on about the complex cuisine of Oaxaca. Pilar´s cooking classes, held in La Casa de Los Sabores (House of Flavors), are set in her spacious, newly remodeled and traditionally appointed Oaxacan kitchen. In this inviting atmosphere, we will be cooking some of Pilar's favorite family dishes. You will have a free afternoon to explore this lovely, colonial city.  Overnight in Oaxaca.

Pottery making in the village of San Marcos - Traditions Mexico Tours
Pottery making in the village of San Marcos

Day 5, Wednesday Nov. 11,  (B, L): Many villages in the Oaxaca valley specialize in one trade or another, though all specialize in cooking and eating well. And so, for the last 4,000 years the village of San Marcos Tlapazola has specialized in clay cookware, aka pottery. Today we’ll leave the cooking to someone else and visit San Marcos to see how these potters ply their trade. They make cooking pots, comales for cooking tortillas, casserole dishes and other kitchen goodies, just as they have since BC 2,000.  In the afternoon we’ll head to a village with a very different trade, the distilling of fire water! Specifically Oaxaca’s tasty brew of growing fame, mescal. We’ll learn how this good hooch is made and dabble a bit ourselves…so as to sleep well tonight.  In the late afternoon, we'll stop by one of the new organic farms in the Oaxaca area. We'll have a farm tour by the owners, followed by a simple dinner based around today's harvest. Overnight in Mitla.

Day 6, Thursday Nov. 12, (B, L,D): The Gonzalez family will treat us to breakfast this morning, including Zapotec hot chocolate. But we’ll keep it light so you have an appetite for lunch!  Today we’ll be doing our cooking the old (and current) way here: in clay pots over wood fed stoves and grinding our chilies, tomatoes and onions in stone mortars and pestles and sturdy metates. We will also learn about the making of another Oaxaca specialty, tejate. This drink made of chocolate, ground corn and a series of semi-mysterious ingredients, is a pre-Hispanic power drink and a true treat to the palette. We’ll assemble a large meal with a main course, a soup, salsa and a beverage for a late Oaxacan lunch a la Zapoteca. In the afternoon we’ll burn off some of those calories by exploring the ruins of Zapotec temples and palaces at a nearby archaeological site.  Evening in Mitla.

Cooking tortillas on a comal - Traditions Mexico Tours
Cooking tortillas on a comal

Day 7, Friday Nov. 13,  (B, L): Today we stay very local, heading to the upper reaches of Teotitlán del Valle for a cooking class with Casa Sagrada’s talented local cooks who will teach some of the culinary secrets unique to Oaxacan cuisine. You will learn to prepare a delicious mole special to Teotitlán, make a salsa with Oaxaca's smoky chile pasilla, and try your hand at wrapping tamales in banana leaves. Join your bilingual commentator in the native herb garden for firsthand aromas and tastes. Then enjoy the fruits of your labors with a late lunch on the outdoor terrace, with its panoramic view of the village and the beautiful valley beyond. We return to Oaxaca for the evening.

Day 8, Saturday  Nov.14, (L): This morning we’ll wrap ourselves up in the cheese business with a visit to a small shop in the Etla valley that makes Oaxaca valley’s nationally admired string cheese. Here it is called quesillo, in the rest of the country it is called Oaxaca cheese. It is a young cheese, like a mozeralla, best eaten when very fresh and bouncy. We’ll be in Reyes Etla, world famous, as I’m sure you are aware, for having produced the biggest ball of quesillo ever. This, of course, upset the neighbors in the  village of Nazareno, who even now are trying to roll a bigger ball!  We'll also visit a local bakery to see how some of the specialty sweet breads are made. Then after lunch at a local comedor, we'll visit the new art school that is housed in a restored 19th-century textile factory. Overnight in Oaxaca.

A Oaxacan lunch - Traditions Mexico
A Oaxacan lunch

Day 9, Sunday Nov. 15,  (B, D): In Oaxaca the best food is not found in the high-end restaurants but in the street food stands and neighborhood markets. This morning we take you to brunch at La Merced, our favorite neighborhood market, where we’ll take a seat at the common table and you can chose from empanadas de huitlacoche, tinga, amarillo, coloradito or rajas, enfrijoladas, enmoladas, caldo de rez, caldo de pollo, mole negro, huevos al gusto, memelas con asiento as well as champurrado, chocolate atole, jugo de naranja, papaya or zanahoria, café, hojaldras…and so on, but I don’t want to spoil the menu for you by giving it all away. After brunch the day is yours for exploring, museum going, plaza lounging, gallery gazing or snoozing. Or, if you’ve got the energy, you can explore the massive Abastos market with us, biggest in the state. You are likely to see more tomatoes and oranges than you’ve ever seen in your life. And things you’ve never seen in your life. This evening we gather for our final dinner together.

Day 10 Monday Nov. 16, (B): Breakfast and transfers to airport.

All itineraries are subject to change without notice



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Seven Oaxaca Pottery Villages