Chef Melissa de León at the Academia de Artes Culinarias

Chef Melissa “La Cooking Diva“,  invited me to one of her classes at the Culinary Arts Academy in Panama, this class was a level 1 for a group of friends who work together, so the fact that it was not a group of students made it very interesting.

I arrived ealier than the Chef  so I went for a walk on that nice area, when I came back Melissa also arrived and showed me the 2 dishes and 1 dessert she was going to work with the students.

This is for the Plantain Pie with Chorizo

Ingredients for the Arroz con Pollo

I really liked her system of writing on the board the dishes and students choosing where they wanted to work, for some reason I ended up with the Plantain-Chorizo Pie & I was thrilled (you all know how much I love plantains)

Everyone going through the Prep List divided per dish

I wish I could have recorded this class and not just done photos, every single student has a marvelous personality, and the little fellow you will see on this next picture, he behaved so well, I mean as well as a kid can behave around knives and kitchen toys haha, trust me if I was him I don’t think adults could have cooked a thing with me around.

The little fellow

Student chopping Pimentón Verde

Chef Melissa & students stirring the pot of the Arroz con Pollo

This is the Sweet Plantain Pie, with chorizo & Queso Fresco

It was amazing all the stories, the jokes the comments mostly on football, you know world cup 2010!

Deboning the chicken for the Arroz con Pollo

The kitchen layout for this class was pretty comfy, huge tables, a nice organized pantry, the Academy provides a good environment for these students, having said that a class with Chef Melissa could be informative & fun at the same time, I wish I could have gone to many others but it will be a must once I go back to Panama.

The delicious Arroz con Pollo

Student using his creative skills, it shows you that cooking is an expression of art

This Pie, was my favorite, the perfect combination of chorizo, the queso fresco & the sweet plantains, it brought me from sweet to salty, quite tasty!

The wonders of Phyllo Dough, just this simple recipe brought so many ideas to all the students, and even the little fellow mentioned how much he wanted cheese & ham inside of  it instead of an apple strudel ha!

It was a lovely happy Thursday night with Chef Melissa and her group, they were really warm and cheerful, I can’t believe they came straight from work, so much energy and enthusiasm, this class is the best therapy anyone can have for stress.  No yoga, no running, no swimming or watching movies, grab a recipe, bunch of ingredients and let your mind and hands do the rest.

You know, some people cook for a living, some because they have to, and some others choose to cook just because, the reason doesn’t matter as long you always, always enjoy your time in the kitchen.

¡a comer!

Follow Chef Melissa on:


Panama Gourmet


  1. JC! Hola! Gracias por la visita en la Academia, la pasamos muy bien con tu participación y el reporte! Please keep us posted on when you come next time to PTY, we have courses all the time. Hugs & Happy Cooking!

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