Stay in this magnificent colonial mansion in the historic center of Mérida.
Enter Los Dos and you are charmed by a glimpse into the lyrical
elegance of life as it was once lived in colonial Mérida. Soaring 18
foot ceilings, sumptuous surroundings, the pool patio and garden, a
formal dining room and parlor and the gorgeous Mexican kitchen are yours
Guests of Los Dos have the use of the entire ground floor of the
home, including the garden and pool, living and dining rooms, and of
course the Los Dos kitchen. The Los Dos library serves as an office for
operations, but guests are welcome in the evenings to enjoy the
library's books and entertainment system. A mozo (rough translation:
butler) tends the premises from 8:00 am until 4:00 pm, serving
breakfast, cleaning, making the beds, providing fresh towels and caring
for the pool and garden.
Enjoy a delicious tropical breakfast served on the terrace every
morning before you head out for the day’s excursions - or into the
kitchen to cook!
The Los Dos property dates from the mid-1800s. Like other Yucatecan
homes built during the period, it was constructed of mampostería, the
stucco-covered, rubble-and-cement building method developed by the
ancient Maya. It is in the classic colonial “L” formation, with all
rooms looking either to the street exterior or to the inner courtyard /
Los Dos had been abandoned for 10 years when it was purchased by Chef
David Sterling and Keith Heitke. During the course of 16 months it was
lovingly restored and remodeled. Currently, the facade remains
untouched, as the owners wait on a long list to participate in the
city's landmark restoration program, Rescate del Centro Histórico de Mérida.
The present style of the interior is an eclectic blend of Andalusian,
Mexican hacienda style, and the urban Victorian trends that were popular
when the house was built. Many pieces of furniture are from the
"Hacienda" home furnishings collection designed by Heitke. The
compact but lush tropical garden of Los Dos is stocked with indigenous
flora, such as naranja agria, chile habanero, chile x'catic, orégano
Yucateco and the tangy lima used to make sopa de lima. Many of our meals
will include these same ingredients found in the markets.
While here, consider joining the Los Dos Cooking Classes and learn
how to cook Yucatecan food.
The guesthouse at Los Dos offers a unique opportunity to spend more
time in the grand kitchen, to chat with Chef Sterling about Mexican
cuisine and food in general, and to relax and enjoy this tranquil
environment between classes.
Available for students of the cooking school and others on a first
come/first served basis is the Master Suite or Junior Suite within Los
Dos. Each suite opens to the terrace, pool and garden, and features air
conditioning, a queen size bed and private bath. A door between the two
suites can be opened to create a larger accommodation for families.
Los Dos is a unique cooking school owned and run by Chef David
Sterling, located in a magnificent colonial mansion in downtown Mérida,
capital of Yucatán, Mexico.
What makes cooking at Los Dos such a delightful experience is that
you learn directly with Chef Sterling in his own kitchen. This personal
attention – chatting with Chef Sterling over morning coffee or
accompanying him to the market – makes spending a day at Los Dos a
memorable part of any vacation to the Yucatán Peninsula.
Designed for people who love to cook (but who are not necessarily
professional chefs), each class at Los Dos begins with coffee and
pastries and ends with a fabulous meal that you and Chef Sterling
You learn to cook traditional Yucatecan dishes in an environment much
like that in which they were originally prepared. Chef Sterling offers
half and one day classes, as well as two and three day combination
cooking/excursion packages that can be combined with your stay in Mérida,
as you tour the Mayan ruins and the many historical and natural
splendors that the Yucatán Peninsula offers. Chef Sterling can also
design a program specifically for the interests or requirements of a
Cooking Classes - What To Expect:
Classes at Los Dos are for the individual who loves to cook but is
unfamiliar with the seasonings and cooking methods of Yucatecan cuisine.
Every class focuses on ingredients and techniques unique to the
region, with a particular emphasis on dishes that can be recreated in
your kitchen back home. Whether you enroll in a Half Day "Short
Course" or a Three Day Workshop, your experience will include
guided visits to the sprawling Lucas de Gálvez market in Mérida, where
you learn firsthand about traditional ingredients ranging from the
ground spice pastes known as recados, to the many forms of dried and
fresh chilies, including the indigenous chile habanero and x'catic. We
explore indigenous herbs, vegetables and spices of the region, such as
the pungent and aromatic orégano Yucateco, chaya, and epazote.
Most important, every student at Los Dos will have plenty of time in
the kitchen, where together we prepare and then share the day's meal.
Half Day "Short Course":
Created to meet popular demand, the Half Day "Short
Course" can seamlessly fit into your daily travel itinerary. The
class gives your family or small group a tasty sampling of cocina
Yucateca, including indigenous ingredients and cooking methods. We
will visit the market, then work into mid-afternoon preparing a
typical comida fuerte (the large Yucatecan afternoon meal).
The Half Day "Short Course" is not part of our regular
class schedule, and is available only upon request as need demands.
One Day Experience:
Spend a day in the kitchen of Los Dos. Together we create an entire
evening meal, starting with antojitos (appetizers) and proceeding to a
soup and a main course. It's a lively and exhilarating day that starts
early and ends late, so bring your bathing suit for a refreshing dip
in the pool, or your favorite book to enjoy on the terrace during our
siesta, or rest period.
Two Day Class:
With two full days in the kitchen, we have a lot of cooking – and
eating – to do! Included in the two-day class is a tour of the
expansive Lucas de Gálvez market in the heart of Mérida, where we
learn about Mexican produce, meat and spices and make purchases for
our cooking classes and meals. Also featured is a buffet lunch at a
famous regional restaurant so that we can sample a wide range of
typical dishes. Each day we return to Los Dos and relax poolside or in
the parlor. Later, we gather in the kitchen to create some of Yucatán's
most famous flavors.
Three Day Workshop:
Because three days straight in the kitchen may be too intense for
some, we have broken down the three day experience to allow for free
days in between. You may roam on your own, or you can join one of the
carefully planned excursions that give you the chance to delve more
deeply into the historical and culinary traditions of Yucatán. During
these excursions we might visit village markets, pueblo restaurants or
private homes to see a celebratory meal being prepared. Also available
are the typical archaeological excursions to Mayan sites, famous to
this area. The three days spent in the kitchen at Los Dos allow us to
concentrate more thoroughly on things such as Maíz, Recados or
About Yucatecan Cuisine:
Was Yucatecan cooking the first 'fusion' cuisine? Possibly!
This amazing culinary tradition is a rich blend of ancient Mayan and
Spanish techniques and ingredients, with just a soupçon of French and
Like much of Mexico, Yucatán has its native ingredients and its
indigenous population to thank for the core of its cuisine. Ingredients
like epazote, orégano Yucateco, and one of the world's hottest chilies,
the habanero, are unique to Yucatán. Cooking methods like the pib, a
hand-dug pit lined with stones and fiery coals in which banana leaf
wrapped meats are cooked are typical of Mayan cooking. Ground spice
pastes used for marinades, sauces of nuts, spices and chilies, intricate
methods for cooking meats, pungent citrus juices all contribute to the
unique culinary tradition of Yucatán.
With the arrival of the Europeans came domesticated pork and other
meats, onions, garlic, and perhaps more important, wheat, rice and
citrus fruits. All contributed to the flavors of the land.
Cooking methods changed, too. The Maya had never fried foods before;
with the pig came lard, and with lard came frying. This produced
arguably one of the greatest changes in Mexican cooking. The Spanish
brought sausage-making. The French brought yeast-risen breads and
pastry, which infiltrated every Mexican bakery. From the Caribbean came
the plátano macho, typically fried, and barbacoa or barbecue – two
staples of the Yucatecan table.
Yucatecan cuisine remains little known outside the region. But for
the serious student and gourmet, it contains elements of surprise and
richness that rival the great cuisines of the world.
The word "tamulado" is a mix of Maya and Spanish words,
and refers to anything mashed in a tamul, or mortar and pestle. This
is the ubiquitous green salsa that you see on every table in every
restaurant in Yucatán, unless they spot you as a gringo! Then you get
the mild stuff. Watch out! Habanero makes this the hottest salsa in
- 6 - 8 medium green chilies habaneros
- substitute: Scotch bonnet chilies, charred, stems removed
- ¼ cup naranja agria juice
- also known as Seville orange.
- substitute: 2 parts lime juice, 1 part each orange juice and
- Pinch sea salt
Step 1: Put all ingredients in a blender. Cover with lid. Process
Caution: When you remove the lid, step away from the blender and
keep face turned. A very potent aroma that can cause you to cough
will emanate from the blender.
Step 2: Place in a small serving dish; cover and refrigerate until
ready to use. Bring to room temperature before serving.
Helado de Chocolate Mexicano:
What makes this chocolate ice cream “Mexican” is the addition
of canela, also known as Mexican cinnamon and considered by many to be
“true cinnamon.” It’s also nice if you can find pure vanilla
from the Fragrance orchid of Mexico considered the source of the
world’s finest vanilla.
- 2 cups Mexican crema
- 2 cups milk
- 1 cup sugar
- 1/8 tsp. salt
- 1 tsp. vanilla
- 4 large egg yolks
- 8 ounces semi-sweet chocolate, chopped
- 1 tsp. canela
- also known as Mexican cinnamon
Step 1: In a heavy saucepan, combine the cream, milk, sugar, salt
and vanilla. Simmer over medium heat, stirring constantly, about 8
minutes, or until sugar is dissolved and mixture is hot. Avoid boiling
so as not to curdle the milk.
Step 2: Using a hand-held electric mixer, beat egg yolks in a
medium mixing bowl until light and fluffy. Gradually blend in 1 cup of
the warm milk mixture. Mix thoroughly. Very slowly, whisk the egg
mixture back into the milk. Reduce heat to medium-low. Stir with a
spoon about 15 - 20 minutes or until the mixture thickens enough to
coat the spoon. It should read about 180 degrees on a candy
thermometer. Avoid boiling so as not to scramble the eggs. Remove from
heat. Immediately whip in the chocolate and Mexican cinnamon and
continue stirring until the chocolate is melted. Allow to cool, then
refrigerate for at least 5 hours or overnight.
Step 3: Process in an electric ice cream maker according to
manufacturer’s directions. Place finished ice cream in a covered
freezer container and freeze for 2 - 3 hours before serving. The ice
cream will be delicious for about 3 days.
About The Chef:
Los Dos chef David Sterling was born in Oklahoma City, OK. Describing
himself as "weaned on chili", Sterling grew up in the
Southwestern culinary environment that included everything from chicken
fried steak and sausage gravy, to cheese enchiladas and other TexMex
Sterling has studied a range of cuisines since he was a teenager, but
after traveling to Mexico in 1972 for the first of many visits, he has
focused primarily on Mexican cooking. He credits one of his best
friends, a teacher of Mexican cooking in Canada, for sparking that
Studying art and languages as an undergraduate, Sterling holds a
Master of Fine Arts in design from Cranbrook Academy of Art. He made his
home in New York City for 25 years before moving to Mérida in 2003 to
open Los Dos, which features the kitchen of Chef Sterling's dreams.
Sterling spends his hours there researching, experimenting and preparing
wholly traditional cocina Yucateca. As chef and founder of Los Dos
cooking school, he also offers classes to the local population and
serves as planning consultant to regional restaurants. In addition,
Sterling is proprietor of the Los Dos line of gourmet Mexican food
Frequently Asked Questions:
What is the typical class size at Los Dos?
- Los Dos classes have a minimum of four students and a maximum of
eight. However, please contact us if you have a larger group.
Is this a class in which I will just watch? Or will I actually get to
- The classes at Los Dos are very “hands-on”! We will have you
chopping, slicing, dicing and frying all day long, so be sure to get
a good night’s rest the evening before!
I’m not that skilled in Spanish. How will I understand the class?
- Not to worry. All classes at Los Dos are taught in English.
How long does the class last, and when should I arrive?
All classes at Los Dos begin promptly at 9:00 am. To make sure you
arrive on time, you are invited to join us for coffee and pastries at
8:30 am. Full day classes end around 8 pm, after our elegant cocktail
hour and candlelight dinner. And half day classes end around 3:00 pm,
leaving you enough time to stroll around Mérida and squeeze in some
It sounds like a long day. Will there be any breaks?
- There will be four 10-minute breaks during the class two in the
morning and two in the afternoon. And for our full-day classes, we
offer a typical Méxican siesta, or rest period, of approximately
one hour after lunch. Bring a book, or your swimsuit for a dip in
Can I keep my cell phone with me?
- As they do at theaters, we ask that you shut off your phone during
class so as not to disturb other students. But you are welcome to
use your phone during our breaks.
Q: My companion hates to cook. But he loves to eat! Is there a way he
can join us for the meal?
- Certainly! Spouses, significant others or friends who don't wish
to take the cooking class may also join us for cocktail hour and
dinner, depending on space at the table. Please inquire as to
What if I'm a vegetarian or have other food restrictions?
- Most of México isn't as caught up on food trends as is much of
the industrialized world so finding special ingredients can be
challenging. Furthermore, open classes may have students who do not
have the same restrictions. The only way we can accommodate your
particular diet is if you enroll in a private class, either
individually or accompanied by the group traveling with you.
What should I wear?
- The only important thing is for you to be comfortable. We are on
our feet most of the day, walking to the market and then cooking in
the kitchen. A comfortable pair of shoes is a must! Whether you wear
shorts or not is up to you: tourists in shorts here are a common
sight, but shorts definitely peg you as a tourist! It is rare
(although not impossible) to see mature adult Meridanos wearing
shorts. As a special gift, you will receive a Los Dos apron, which
will protect whatever you decide to wear during the class.
Is there a dress code for dinner?
- Not at all! Again we want you to be comfortable. However, because
the dining room is set rather formally, there have been students who
wished they had worn something a little more dressy, if only for
their photos! Changing areas are available.
Can children take classes at Los Dos?
- Children under 12 will probably not feel comfortable in the Los
Dos kitchen, nor in the elegant dining room with its formal place
settings - much less with the type of food we prepare. But if your
11 year old is skilled with a chopping knife and loves habaneros,
please talk to us!
Are children welcome in the Los Dos Guesthouse?
- We love children; heck, we were kids ourselves once! But let's
face it: Los Dos is a very grown up place and wasn't designed with
children in mind. The house contains lots of antiques and
"fancy" furniture that scratches easily. The pool and roof
are unsupervised and potentially lethal. There's nothing to do here
but cook and eat very weird stuff with lots of hot chilies and dead
fish and black gravy and other yucky things. There are only
queen-sized beds in every room, which even two adults find
"cozy." Think about it. If you have very sophisticated
kids (and we know some!) who would fit in, they are more than
welcome. We always learn from them! Just talk to us.
What time is breakfast served at the Los Dos Guesthouse?
- The breakfast buffet is served between 8:00 am and 9:00 am. Should
you have an early flight or travel plan, please notify the owners
and accommodations can be made.
What about tipping?
- For students of Los Dos Cooking School, no tipping is necessary.
Consider yourself at a party among friends, where tipping would be
unnecessary. For guests of Los Dos Guesthouse, think of it as you
would a hotel. Your room is cared for daily by our staff who provide
the touches that make your stay comfortable. A customary tip is
approximately 3% per day, per room.
Los Dos is located in the heart of Mérida's bustling historic
Colonia Centro. A quick 15 minute taxi ride from the airport will have
you at our front door, and we are just a leisurely 10 minute stroll from
the city's main square (Plaza Grande). If you need customized driving
information from any point in the area, please don't hesitate to contact
Driving From Cancun, Riviera Maya And Other Points East:
Look for signs for Merida. There are two main highways leading to
Merida: one is a local, that slowly meanders through many pueblos; the
other is a faster toll road, which is our recommendation (cost:
between $100 and $250 pesos depending on your entry point. By the way,
be sure to have the correct change in pesos with you because the
attendants there only grudgingly accept other currency). This toll
road is called the "Cuota". Take the Cuota west toward
Merida. As you approach Merida, you will cross the ring road that
encircles the city ("Periférico"). Pass through the Periférico,
staying on the same road you have been driving. This will become Calle
65 (65th Street). Stay on Calle 65 as you drive through Merida's
colorful market and bustling street life. When you reach Calle 70,
turn left. Go one block, turn left again on Calle 67. Go one block and
turn left again on Calle 68. Los Dos is on Calle 68, closer to Calle
65, on the left (west) side of the street. The house is white; the
facade has still not been restored, but there is a stone sign to the
left of the front door identifying the house as Los Dos. Double park
if necessary in order to unload your luggage. We can then direct you
to a parking space.
Driving From Merida International Airport:
Take airport exit and turn right onto Avenida Itzáes. Follow this
street approximately 2 miles until you see a giant Chedraui
supermarket on the right. The sign is huge and you can't miss it.
Immediately after the parking lot, take the first right that you can.
Follow this road around to the right, curving past what is actually
the front entrance of the supermarket. You will have to turn left at a
soccer field. The road you are on then becomes Calle 71. Stay on 71
until you get to Calle 68. Turn left onto 68 and continue toward 67;
go past 67 toward 65. Number 517 (Los Dos) is on the left (west) side
of the street, closer to Calle 65. The house is white; the facade has
still not been restored, but there is a stone sign to the left of the
front door identifying the house as Los Dos. Double park if necessary
in order to unload your luggage. We can then direct you to a parking