About Us

Cuisine of the City of Puebla, Mexican Cooking School

Long before there was “Mexican Cuisine” the Olmecs, Zapotecs, Totonacs, Toltecs, and Aztecs came and intermixed their cultures, customs, and kitchens. For thousands of years before the Europeans arrived, before Rome was even a village, a sophisticated cuisine was developing here. Our Mexican Cooking School, Mexican Home Cooking, explores the vast cultures involved in the building of Mexican Cuisine and the cuisine of the city of Puebla

When the Spanish came in 1619 the mixture of kitchens began. Many indigenous dishes were accepted and adapted but much more were lost.

The most common ingredients for the endless varieties of today’s “Poblano” Cuisine include tomato, onion, cinnamon, tortilla, chiles – including anchos, pasillas, mulattos and chipotles –  pumpkin seeds, raisins, cloves, sesame seeds, almonds, tomatillos, oil, garlic and salt. Nearly half these ingredients arrived in the New World with the Spanish.

What is not often noted is that all the forms of “Spanish” culture came with a strong “Middle Eastern” influence due to the Moorish rule of Spain for 500 years.The influence of the Middle East and Persia are particularly apparent in the cuisine of Puebla in its use of numerous fruits and spices – such as cinnamon, ginger, sesame seeds, cloves, cumin and nutmeg.

In 1863 the French invaded putting Maximiliano on the throne and a French Court to Mexico City. Puebla took in the French adding a touch of their cuisine to ours making our sauces, soups and pastries even more complex and unique.

The real gourmet cooking here was kept in households as “Home Cooking” for special occasions; it is never found in restaurant kitchens and nearly lost to the present generation of Mexicans as the culture is changing from outside influences.

Estela’s Story

The women in Estela’s family for generations prior to her time worked as cooks for the well-to-do residents of Puebla.  Estela began a classical culinary apprenticeship at the age of seven in the traditions of Mexico that still existed at that time under the tutelage of her great-grandmother, grandmother and the older women of her family.

After working in various restaurants in Mexico Estela left and spent 20 years as head chef at her family’s restaurant in San Francisco (Mill Valley), returning here 16 years ago to open her school “Mexican Home Cooking”

Her dream has been and continues to be, to pass on not only the traditional cuisine of Puebla, which is being lost, but also the distinct and unique dishes developed by her family while cooking for the privileged class in Puebla as well as the oral history of the Puebla region and its cuisine.

 Her course is unique and due to its small size she is able to format her classes to the level of her students, allowing her to present her course to novices as well as professionals.   She has had students from 13 to 83 years.   l

Mexican Cooking School Staff

Mexican Home Cooking School is almost unique in Mexico; in that it is owned and run by a Mexican, teaching “traditional Mexican cuisine” from its basics.

Señora Estela Salas Silva began a classical culinary apprenticeship at the age of seven under the tutelage of her grandmother and the women of her family, according to the traditions of Mexico that still existed at that time. Her experience in restaurants began at age 9 in Mexico City and continued to San Francisco, where she was Head Chef of her family’s “El Rebozo Restaurant” for many years. She has owned and operated Mexican Home Cooking School since 1996.

Señora Estela Salas Silva

Señora Estela Salas Silva



Estela is assisted by her husband Jon who worked for many years in the catering business in San Francisco.