I am a serious culinarian and traveled to Oaxaca to expand my skills and knowledge. We researched schools and read several favorable reviews about the Seasons of My heart cooking school. We even bought Ms Trilling's book (from the PBS series) and were looking forward to the class, one of three I had enrolled in for the week.
Before we went I inquired about the possibility of having Ms Trilling autograph my book if I brought it. It was then that I found out she would not be teaching the class. I was told a "very capable chef substitute" had been arranged. Somewhat disappointed I decided to go anyway as I thought someone with her reputation would make sure her substitute would be excellent.
On the day of the class we were picked up promptly and driven to the market in Etla, near Ms Trilling's B&B and school. In the group with me was a fellow traveler I had met the previous day at another cooking class. A gentleman who is planning on opening a restaurant and who was every bit as earnest about learning as I was.
It was at the market that the disappointment hit. We were met by a woman who seemed a throw-back to a 1960s hippie. She started off the tour and we promptly noticed she had no clue as to food, cooking, or ingredients. Every time she needed to talk about the simplest of herbs, grains, chiles, or anything she was reading it from a note book. Not only that but much of her information was wrong. I was tagging along and getting more information from the merchants by asking my own questions. I finally had enough when she tried to pass off an egg based bread (sweet) as "something like what we use for tortas (a savory preparation).
I told my friend from the previous class I was abandoning the tour. I was fortunate that I had friends who followed us in a rental car so baling out was feasible. My friend said "the whole thing is cheesy but I'll stick it out."
I called our tour guide aside and told her how disappointed I was and that I did not feel I had paid to have an unprepared guide read from a notebook. I told her I could do better on my own. She said that "Susana herself trained me" and that I "would not get any help from the merchants because we have a relationship with them." This was of course, the height of silliness to imagine a merchant would not want to talk about their products. As for the training, if Ms Trilling sent such a poor guide to replace her, I could only imagine what the class would be like. I left the tour after clearly asking for a refund and struck off on my own. Within ten minutes I had armfuls of purchases of various chiles and herbs and I was happily chatting away behind the counter of one of the booths about ingredients and cooking.
The next day I ran into my friend who told me the class was "pretty good" (not exactly a ringing endorsement) and that the first he heard about Ms Trilling not leading the class was when the substitute "guide" showed up. This is very unprofessional. It seems Ms Trilling is over-extending herself and neglecting the thing that brought her fame- good cooking.
I have followed up with two emails about my refund and as of this date I am still waiting for my money.
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.