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Rancho La Puerta and La Cocina que Canta

Rancho La Puerta and La Cocina que Canta: Can sustainable and healthy actually translate into Chocolate Coconut Flan?  Ask Kristin Díaz de Sandi.

Written for by Kristin Díaz de Sandi of Life & Food.

Kristin Díaz de Sandi’s Life & Food blog, created in conjunction with her husband Antonio, has helped drive recognition of the gastronomic resurgence of Baja California.  She and Antonio have merged efforts with colleagues Bill Esparza and Jason Thomas Fritz to create Club Tengo Hambre, a roving supper club, that explores food and wine cuisine in Baja.

Tecate, was recently accredited as a “Magical Town” by the ministry of Tourism of the Federal Government. This is the first town in Baja California to be credited with this distinction. It is because of places like Rancho La Puerta and its La Cocina que Canta, that really let you embrace that magical atmosphere. We couldn’t have asked for better weather while taking a tour of Rancho La Puerta’s property and its cooking school, “La Cocina que Canta.”  The name comes from the two California Live Oak trees on property that originally formed an arch-like door “La Puerta.” Currently there is only one still living, and it is just beautiful.


La Cocina que Canta Rancho La Puerta Tecate

The Rancho La Puerta Resort and Spa property was first founded by Professor Edmond and Deborah Szekely in 1940. Today the museum on the grounds is actually where they lived for the first 10 years. You have the opportunity to step inside and take a look at all of their accolades on the walls, as well as view their small living space. People used to come to the ranch to listen to the professor and camp out in tents. Eventually, Deborah actually got her hand on some large storage containers in the nearby town of Campo and turned those into guest rooms.

La Cocina que Canta Rancho La Puerta Tecate

La Cocina que Canta Rancho la Puerta Tecate

Rancho La Puerta Resort and Spa encourages its guests to book a seven-night stay in order to fully experience and immerse themselves into all of the fitness and various activities that are offered. For those who cannot take that full week off, they do also offer both three and four night stays, as well. There are three separate health centers, four pools, and outdoor activities such as their Reflexology spiral, and Labyrinth walking meditation area. There is a lot of walking, whether you are just heading to your room from the dining hall, or exploring the grounds on your own. Do not forget to pack comfortable and athletic shoes. That reflexology spiral was looking awfully tempting to me, by the end of our tour.


La Cocina que Canta Rancho La Puerta Tecate Baja Mexico

The dining hall at the ranch has established times for your three meals a-day. Breakfast and lunch are served buffet style, while dinner has table service. The menu offered is vegetarian, with the exception of fish occasionally being offered. All of the organic produce is grown on their six-acre farm named Rancho Tres Estrellas. Salvador Tinajero is the head gardener that maintains the farm as it flourishes, and provides all of the guests with its bounty. There are hikes and tours offered daily letting you discover the absolute beauty of this farm for yourself. La Cocina que Canta is the cooking school that is set right in the heart of Rancho Tres Estrellas. Before it actually became a school in 2007, there was just a small farm kitchen in its place. Now, the 4,500 square food hacienda-style center offers weekly culinary classes to their guests. Guest teaching chefs are brought in from all around the world to teach at this school. The interiors are just stunning. This is the kind of kitchen that I dream about. An expansive chopping block, colorful details and traditional cook-ware pieces fill the space. There is a set of carved spoons on the wall that I could not help but just stare at.


La Cocina que Canta Restaurant Rancho La Puerta Tecate Baja

La Cocina que Canta Rancho Tecate Baja Mexico

We met with Executive Chef Denise Roa, who gave us a personal tour of the farm, and prepared a delicious lunch for us. She has lived in Tecate for the past year and a half, and could not stop boasting about how happy she is. I mean, you could see it for yourself, she was glowing!  She gives a lot of the credit to Mount Cuchuma, which you can see from all directions. It’s true, there is something about that mountain that is so special, I felt as if I was taking fresh full breaths of air all day long. As we walked the farm, we tasted strawberries, and she pointed out all of the gorgeous produce surrounding us. She stressed about how much her life has changed eating incredibly fresh produce, and wholesome foods. You don’t have to tell me twice, I am right there with you. We even got to visit their on site chicken coop, which houses 89 chickens at the moment. They each lay one egg a day, for the school’s use. You can’t get any fresher than that. After all the talk about food, and taunting us with a couple of strawberries, it was time to sit down at the large wooden dining table and enjoy lunch.


We were presented with a vegetarian Paella, that she actually made from faro instead of rice, corn tamales with mole, a garden salad, and black beans. Oh, and how could I forget the chocolate coconut flan with fresh persimmons. The tamal with mole and the flan tied as my favorites for the day. It was hard to decide between the two, both rich and loaded with flavor.

If you are in the need of some serious relaxation, or just a change from your normal routine, Rancho La Puerta is awaiting your arrival. The scenery is so serene, and truly breathtaking.

Want to find out more about cuisine in Baja California?  Read about it here!

Kristin and Antonio blog at Life & Food and you can follow them on Twitter at @lifefoodblog and Facebook. is a comprehensive online source of first-hand travel information for the Baja California Peninsula, supported by a full-service tour operator staffed by Baja locals (our “Baja Travel Savants”). We offer Baja travelers expert advice about local restaurants, hotels and vacation rentals, as well as guides, maps and articles about events, sports and activities. We provide bilingual customer support, information and sales seven days a week, 365 days a year.  For more information, please call toll-free (US/CAN) 855-BAJA-411 or email us at

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About Kristin Díaz de Sandi

Kristin Díaz de Sandi’s Life & Food blog, created in conjunction with her husband Antonio, has helped drive recognition of the gastronomic resurgence of Baja California. She and Antonio have merged efforts with colleagues Bill Esparza and Jason Thomas Fritz to create Club Tengo Hambre, a roving supper club, that explores food and wine cuisine in Baja.

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