Groups can dine al fresco with a traditional Pachamanca—or “earth oven” in Quechua, the language of the indigenous people of Peru—in the Sacred Valley. The traditional meal of potatoes, meats and vegetables is cooked for a couple hours in a big hole dug into the ground. The Pachamanca tradition dates back to pre-Inca times (5,000-plus years ago), and it is still popular today in communities around the Andes. Groups staying at JW Marriott El Convento Cusco can experience the traditional fare by traveling about one hour outside of Cusco to Hacienda Sarampampa, a beautiful working ranch in the Sacred Valley. The Pachamanca is orchestrated by JW Marriott El Convento Cusco’s Executive Chef Rely Alencastre and a team of four sous chefs.
JW Marriott El Convento Cusco offers groups aculinary tour of the local Mercado San Pedro (or San Pedro Market), where the Chef Alencastre sources 100 percent of the hotels fruit, vegetables and dairy products from local purveyors for the on-property Pirqa Restaurant. The tour includes stops at the vendor stands Chef Alencastre frequents on a daily basis, and each vendor allow groups to sample ingredients that range from chirimoya, to lucuma, queso andino (Andean cheese), coffee and quinoa. Seasonal private tours to the regions farms also give groups the opportunity to learn more about regional crops straight from the source. Inspired by choclo, large-kernel Peruvian corn, the Route of the Choclo is available in February and March, during the harvest season. The tour includes a visit to a local corn field, a stop for a bite of choclocon queso corn served with a salty white cheese and a Chicha de Jora tasting (corn beer chicha).
Alpaca Weaving Demonstrations
In the JW Marriotts open courtyard, local weavers set up shop for two weeks at a time to give textile weaving demonstrations to attendees as well as sell their woven good to guests. Off property, attendees can visit the Awana Kancha cooperative, located about 20 minutes outside of Cusco. Here, groups will visit alpacas and llamas specifically raised for their wool. Attendees will get to watch the weaving process unfold from spinning the wool to dyeing the fabrics and then watch weavers turn wool into table runners, handbags and other goods.
Interactive Cooking Lessons
Culinary travel is a huge draw for travelers, says Rispa. That’s why the property offers the Peruvian cooking seminar, an interactive experience that encourages attendees to gather in the property’s courtyard, where a makeshift kitchen is set up by the hotel’s events team. Here, Chef Alecanstre leads a cook-and-eat-as-you-go lesson that covers a total of five to six dishes (two appetizers, two entrees and desserts) that represent the cuisine of the region. Throughout the experience, Chef Alencastre teaches guests about native ingredients such as Peru’s more than 3,000 varieties of potatoes, the yellow chili pepper(ají) and Andean trout from the surrounding Sacred Valley of the Incas.