The cooking school is in a gracious historic home in the Otrobanda neighborhood of Willemstad, Curacao’s capital city, and is a popular cruise ship excursion.
The cooking action all happens in a long kitchen with a tall, peaked white ceiling, several spotless mint green work stations and a terra cotta floor. It’s large and airy enough to feel spacious even with twenty participants, and the kitchen opens up onto a patio and a garden for the meal that will follow.
Morning classes kick off at 9:30 in the morning and go until 1:30, which includes lunch.
The morning starts with everyone comfortably seated in the kitchen for a demonstration of the day’s recipes to be prepared for the mid-day meal, while flipping through a sheaf of recipes and sipping on a round of fruit juice. The theme on the day that I experienced the class was the local cuisine of Curacao, which makes the most sense for culinary tourists to the island, but Angelica’s Kitchen also offers a cooking experience that focuses on the foods of the English Caribbean and the Spanish Caribbean. There are also classes that highly Italian, French, and Spanish cuisines, and holiday themes, like Christmas, Thanksgiving and Valentine’s Day, but these would be more appealing to the cooking school’s local clientele than to a visitor. Read more about Angelica’s culinary school themes here.
After the head instructor, Clarita, warmly no-nonsense, finished her recipe demonstration, she made an announcment: “Vacation’s over, now it’s time to get to work!” She is only partially kidding.
The group is split into teams, each responsible for a dish. Each work station is equipped with baskets pre-prepared with all the ingredients needed for recipe, and the cooking implements required. The work stations are designed for standing, so students need to be ready and able to stand for a couple of hours, although chairs can be arranged for the mobility impaired.
A group of four instructors, including Clarita, circulate throughout the room, providing advice, helping the hapless and clarifying the sometimes unhelpful printed recipes (For instance, it wasn’t clear in one recipe for marinade that all the quantities had to be doubled to accommodate the size of the group – requiring a major course adjustment.)
Within short order -- by which I mean, before 11 a.m. -- fruit juice had gave way to wine. Peer pressure is as significant a factor as in high school -- declining a glass of wine will earn you an incredulous "what?!?" By noon, the hot kitchen was smelling delicious, the sound system filled the room with the sounds of island music, and the staff organized a conga line. The group responsible for a chips and salsa dish distributed their efforts early.
Somehow – and with plenty of assists from the cooking staff – the rest of meal is prepared, and students set the table on the breezy patio. Prior to lunch, with everyone seated, there are announcements of birthdays and special celebrations. After a boozy group rendition of the Happy Birthday song, it was announced that a couple was celebrating their wedding anniversary. Before the meal, Clarita kissed the husband on the cheek and says "I bet you never were kissed by a non European on your wedding party anniversary."
Then, each team reports to the kitchen to serve the dishes they created. Everyone oohs and aahs , and when the meal is complete, everyone pitches in to clean up the kitchen.
Plan Your Trip to Angelica’s Kitchen
- Note that Angelica’s Kitchen offers classes for groups of ten or more and not individuals. If your group is smaller than ten, it's worth calling as it's sometimes possible to join a larger cruise ship excursion group.
- The price for the cooking class is $85 per person.
- Make reservations online.
- Angelica’s Kitchen also offers a walking tour of Willemstad that includes a visit to the Floating Market, a visit to the old Synagogue (which has no real culinary connection, but is one of the main attractions in Willemstad) and ends with at the Old Market, where you can buy lunch. The fee for the walking tour is $45, excluding lunch.