Cooking with Class at Cocina Rivero
When Emmanuel Rivero moved from Mexico City to Prague 14 years ago, cooking was simply a hobby for him. The self-proclaimed foodie would host dinner parties for friends and cook dishes from a variety of cuisines, from Mexican to Vietnamese, but only when he wasn’t working at his office job. Prior to Cocina Rivero’s inception, Rivero worked as a hospitality education travel agent for an international studies program. Even when he started working in other cooking classes, it was only as a small side project from his full-time work. Rivero worked at other cooking studios in Prague but felt like something was missing as it wasn’t his kitchen. His friends soon had an idea to put his talent for cooking to better use: They advised him to open up his own cooking school.
“So, with a couple of friends, we put some money together and we found this place and we opened this place,” Rivero said.
Once Cocina Rivero had finally opened in February 2011, Rivero taught mostly Mexican cooking classes as it was his specialty. Being from Mexico City, Rivero brought his favorite Mexican dishes to the table once the kitchen opened. But in such a major tourist destination as Prague, with people from all over the world coming to visit, Rivero wanted to diversify the school’s offerings.
“It’s very compact but at the same time it has a lot of variety, it’s very cosmopolitan,” Rivero said of the city. “[There are] a lot of nationalities living here, people from all over the world. So, it gives the city a special dynamic.”
To capitalize on these eclectic tastes, Rivero invited guest chefs and lecturers to share their knowledge of other cuisines as well. Chefs came from far and wide, teaching courses focusing on steak, sushi and a laundry list of other dishes.
What started as a duo grew into a team of 10 chefs teaching classes unique to different styles of food. A few members of the team are Czech natives, specializing in their host countries cuisine as well as various other European dishes. Other chefs like Sofia Smith and Selma come from the U.K and Turkey, diversifying the kitchen for a richer experience. It’s doesn’t get any more authentic than having chefs from their respective countries teach people about their native cuisine. With the addition of more chefs Cocina Rivero offers 11 courses, all with their own unique theme. Take Flavors of the Middle East with Miro Misutka and learn how to make hummus and small tapas dishes. Or try your hand at a Sushi rolling workshop with Jaroslav Kratochvil to create sashimi and delicious Gyoza Dumplings.
Rivero saw it as his mission to expose people to types of food still waiting to be discovered in Prague.
“As long as someone recommends it — someone that they know and trust — then they’ll go for it,” Rivero said of the locals. “It happens with cuisines as well, once they try [it], then they go for it. They trust Italian food, steaks, you know?”. Something as popular as Italian food has a loyal and consistent following with hundreds hungry for pasta and pizza every day, but Rivero wanted them to open up to more than one style of food.
In one of his efforts to expand Prague’s palate, his kitchen offered an Indian cooking course, for example, when Indian food was all but foreign to Czechs.
“Nobody knew was masala was,” Rivero said. “The same with Thai food — they didn’t like it.”
On top of that, Prague’s restaurant scene had improved over the last eight years offering more variety, expanding the cities pallet. Stores started offering products pertaining to certain cuisines as the city adopted a foodie-mindset. People have branched out more and more, whether it be chefs opening restaurants or people shopping for groceries. Even at restaurants too, more and more international courses were popping up left and right.
Looking to inspire people to try new foods, Rivero was determined to make cooking an enjoyable (and delicious!) activity for everyone, but especially for those who don’t like cooking. But his level of inspiration reaches far beyond the kitchen, it reaches all over the city.
“My interest is to inspire [people] to go out and try more food, they ask me for recommendations and nice restaurants,” Rivero said.
Regardless of your cooking interest and ability, Cocina Rivero welcomes amateur cooks and cooking enthusiasts alike for a once-in-a-lifetime experience cooking some of the best dishes from countries all over the world.
From classics to more adventurous foods, Cocina Rivero has a variety of daily classes for people of all ages. (We recommend the Mexican course called “Ole Ole Guacamole.”) “So, I just recommend what I like, some recommendations on where you can try certain foods. And I think it helps, because the community of foodies is growing and growing.”
To book a class or for more information, visit Cocina Rivero online at cocinarivero.cz or call +420 774 485 511.