Bienvenidos a Los Dos: Yucatecan Cooking School, Merida, Mexico

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Martha Stewart gives Los Dos the white glove test
Martha and David, tropical style
28 August, 2008 THE DOYENNE OF FINE LIVING – MARTHA STEWART – recently paid a visit to Mérida to give "La Blanca" and Los Dos her white glove test. Guest of celebrity actress and jetsetter Paola Cussi at her fabulous hacienda San Bernardo just outside of town, Martha spent a day with Chef David Sterling cooking at Los Dos where crews filmed the event for the daytime program “Martha”.
With only two weeks’ notice before filming was to begin, Chef David worked long distance with producers of the show in New York to map out the shoot, and to plan which recipes the two would prepare on-air. Sterling sent over 20 different recipe and menu concepts, and was surprised when Martha chose three dishes: for an appetizer, the ancient Maya fritter Polkanes; a main course of Pavo en Relleno Negro, the labor-intensive but satisfying meat-stuffed turkey cooked in charred chile sauce; and for dessert Caballeros Pobres, the Yucatecan version of bread pudding.

During the first day, the film crew shot B-roll footage of a typical class at Los Dos. The second and principal shoot day began at Mérida’s colorful central market, where Chef David gave Martha a tour of the endless aisles full of exotic produce, spices and condiments. Heat and humidity levels that day were at typical midsummer peaks, and the makeup artist became a vital accessory never far from both cooks.
Back in the Los Dos kitchen, adapting the original plan to Martha’s (and Chef’s) flagging energy levels, the producer decided to scale back the ambitious filming schedule and concentrate on the main dish: Pavo en Relleno Negro. Los Dos staff and Chef had prepared three turkeys in all – one to be baking during the filming and ready for presentation; one to illustrate how it is poached in the black chile stock; and the last one for a demonstration of the initial preparation and stuffing.

However, because of this switch in timing, the roasted turkey lagged behind the new schedule. As Martha and crew impatiently waited for the timer to sound, the decision was made to prepare the Polkanes as well. Martha enjoyed making and eating these ancient Maya fritters and showed fine “patty cake” skills as she gave shape to their traditional snakehead form.

During her tour of Yucatán, at Chef David’s suggestion the crew also filmed Martha with the Maas family in the tiny pueblo of Santa Elena, where the mission was to explore the solar, or kitchen garden, where the family grows many food plants and maintains domesticated animals for their own consumption. The solar is an extremely important feature of traditional Maya life, and is a major thematic point in Sterling’s class presentations, as well as a destination in culinary excursions offered by Los Dos.

To read about some of her Yucatán adventures, visit
“The Martha Blog.”
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