My name is Claudia Alarcón. My story begins in Mexico D.F. where I was born and raised in the mostly happy home of a lower-middle class family. My mother is a fantastic and resourceful cook, and I started learning from her as soon as I was old enough to hold a knife and reach the stove. Although we didn’t have much money, both my parents were quite the gourmands – I always like to say they raised me with a millionaire’s taste on a poor man’s budget. From them I inherited my passion for home cooking, fine food and wine, and most of all to appreciate what I have and not waste anything. Like my mother, I have learned to make dinner out of nothing.
Because I had always been independent and adventurous, I decided to move to Austin since 1984 when I was just 19 years old. For 15 years I held different jobs in many local restaurants and catering companies, and after traveling, partying, and gathering plenty of restaurant industry experience in my 20s, I finally enrolled at The University of Texas at Austin at the age of 30. I received my bachelor’s degree with honors in Anthropology in 1999, with a minor in Latin American Studies. I have since become an independent researcher on gastronomy and foodways, and have been writing professionally since 2000 for various local and national publications.
I am also leading culinary tours in Austin, Mexico City, and more destinations in the future. As a child I traveled far and wide across my own country with my family, so I developed a passion for travel. Through the years I have managed to continue my travels, visiting Guatemala, Belize, Alaska (it really should be another country!), South Africa, and Brazil, always interested in the local cuisine and botany.
I have been a plant lover since childhood, tending my potted plants and self-made terrariums as we didn’t have a house with a garden. After settling in Austin I started gardening full-force, and now I have been doing it for nearly 20 years, practicing organic techniques to grow a variety of ornamental as well as edible gardens. I love cooking with the things we grow. My husband Will Larson, a native Austinite who is a talented metal sculptor, shares my gardening passion and now we work together to do the best we can to grow our own food and try to maintain a landscape that reminds me a bit of Mexico.
With CuisineXplorers I want to combine everything I love so I can share it with the world, along with the occasional rant about sports and my dogs. Here I wish to share my ideas for cooking, gardening, and traveling in a sustainable way, with great respect for nature while providing as much pleasure as possible. I am against wasting resources, especially food. Therefore, as a cook I make use of every possible part of the vegetable, animal, or leftover that comes across my path. Being thrifty and a gourmand are not mutually exclusive, you know? There are ways to do it. I will show you how. After all, I learned from a master.
For information and details about CuisineXplorers’ culinary tours, please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org