Karisma Resorts Canadian Beef Culinary Series

Although I love the tropical temperatures and ease of all-inclusive resorts, I rarely visit them unless a girl’s R&R trip is required. “Why?” you ask. Who wouldn’t like the tranquil stress-free environment and the ability to sip to one’s content? Well, a foodie for one. You have to admit, although the food is plentiful at resorts, its taste is normally decent at best.

Hence, when an invitation arrived to learn more about the 2016 Canadian Beef Culinary Series by Karisma Hotels & Resorts, I was intrigued. The company doesn’t just promote exclusive beach access or private infinity pools; their gourmet food, including on site organic green houses, were just as important.

Sample dish from a previous Culinary Series
Scheduled for the second full week of every month, guests of the El Dorado Royale in the Riviera Maya, Mexico will have their taste buds tantalized by guest chefs, who pair up with El Dorado’s team of Michelin star restaurant trained chefs to run classes, special pairing menus, tastings and an exclusive dinner. Some events include a beach BBQ, beef and wine pairing, cooking demonstrations and expert wine pairing tutorials.

Chef Louis Charest
The 2016 guest chef itinerary is:
  • January –  Marc St Jacques of Pearl Hospitality
  • February –  Victor Barry of Splendido
  • March –  Todd Parrin of Malard College
  • April – Carl Heinrich of Richmond Station
  • May – Marco Frappier of Joe Beef
  • June    Hayden Johnson of Richmond Station
  • July –  Mark Forgione of Impasto
  • August – Eric Palomino of Café Bar Pasta
  • September – Special Guest Chef
  • October – Ted Corrado of The Drake and The Drake 150
Already in its third year, the Canadian Beef Culinary Series combines our country’s delicious beef with carefully curated Jackson Family wines. To get a taste of the “gourmet inclusive experience”, we were treated to a dinner at Sassafraz, where the main course was a melt-in-your mouth piece of tenderloin topped with compound butter.

While I was tucking into a plate of juicy tomatoes and fresh mozzarella cheese, Alex Portman of Karisma explained that their gourmet experience means all restaurants offer a la carte menus and guests aren’t expected to make reservations. A selection of wines and premium liquor is also included (a far cry from the locally made tequila I remember from my last Cancun adventure) as well as 24 hours room service for those who want to dine in pajamas.

Caprese salad, from the Sassafraz dinner
Curious about the cost of these packages, I looked on Air Canada Vacations at the April dates. Undeniably, at $2,300 per person including airfare and taxes, a 6-day stay will be more than the previous Mexico vacations I’ve experienced. But, booking with Air Canada does include complimentary access to all the Canadian Beef Culinary Series events (a US$300 value) and I’m sure the food will be much better than my previous visits.  

Plus, the free unlimited wi-fi at the resort would even allow me to live tweet/Instagram the experience! I was surprised to learn that Karisma also offers unlimited international calling at their resorts – surely a benefit for worker bees who need to stay in touch with the office or parents with their children.

The promise of gourmet meals, premium alcohol, a full service concierge and king sized beach beds sure sounds enticing after a long Canadian winter. We’ll see, if the food gods align, perhaps you’ll see more about the series in the spring.

If you're interested in attending, book with Air Canada Vacations by December 15th to take advantage of the complimentary access bonus. 

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