Mexican Cooking Vacation
in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico

Garbanzo Dish Pozole Soup Chiles Nogada


Experience learning all about Mexican cooking and culture from a local family with over a century of culinary and teaching heritage.


Your Mexican Cooking Vacation Instructors, Patricia Merrill Marquez and Mónica Navarrete Merrill, are a mother-daughter two generation team, from a multigenerational cuisine background.

Our Mexican Cooking Vacation program is an extension of the International Memorable Learning Experience (IMLE), founded in 1969 by Maria "YaYa" Marquez and Don Ricardo de Leon (Patricia's parents). This Mexican cooking seminar thrived in Leon and San Miguel for over a decade.

IMLE was unique for the time and pioneered Mexican culinary tourism as a "vacation with a purpose". We have had honeymooners, mother-daughter vactioners, serious researchers, aspiring restaurant owners, and vacationers of all sorts.

IMLE students in 1970


"Yaya" Marquez, Patricia and Monica, three generations of Mexican Cooking

Patricia inherited her mother's interest and delight in the kitchen where she helped in food preparation and cake decorating classes since childhood. She frequently assisted her mother with IMLE cooking sessions while she was a young woman studying architecture in Guanajuato.

YaYa's own apprenticeship as a young girl in San Miguel included the town's most respected cooks in traditional Mexican favorite dishes, and her own mother, raised and taught by the nuns in the Purisima Concepcion convent, now Bellas Artes.

Mónica has a Diploma in High Cuisine and is a graduate in gastronomy from the Instituto Gastronómico de Estudios Superiores. She has attended courses at the Culinary Institute of America in New York city.


IMLE had a significant historical impact on the popularity and increasing appreciation of good Mexican cooking in the United States. Many US and Canadian food writers and critics passed through the cooking classes in Leon and later San Miguel at YaYa's own kitchen. Such renowned chefs and food writers as Diana Kennedy, Rick Bayless, Barbara Hansen, and others came to Mexico in the 1970's and visited IMLE culinary program.

Yaya and Barbara
"Yaya" Marquez, Diana Kennedy and IMLE staff, 1970s

"The author wishes to thank Richard Merrill, Instituto Moderno de Lenguas Extranjeras, Leon, Gto., Maria Marquez de Merrill... who contributed to this book" - Barbara Hansen, Mexican Cookery