I’m greeting you Texas style, because like my main character Samantha Willis, I have fallen in LOVE with San Antonio, Texas! As some of you may know, the main setting for my upcoming middle grade novel, Sam’s Movin’,Groovin, Cookin’ Club is in good ole’ San Antone. So, it made perfect sense for me to visit the Alamo city and do some extra research at the Culinary Institute of America campus AND the Rio Plaza! Both sit on the beautiful River Walk along the Rio (river). San Antonio is rich in history, culture, and the culinary arts.
I have visited the Alamo city before, but this trip in particular was all about the culinary aspects of this wonderful town, and I can assure you that it did not disappoint! Many thanks to Bernadette Lewis, former Marketing Manager of the Culinary Institute of America, and Melanie Planas, Events Director at the Rio Plaza (elegant private event venue on the River Walk)! Both accomplished women shared with me an authentic behind the scenes “taste of the city”. Not only were their personalized tours of each venue extensive and extremely informative, but their guidance and joy in being “San Antonians” was positively contagious as well!
Pictured below is the Culinary Institute of America’s Texas campus.
Bernadette Lewis is a self professed “military brat” (Lackland Air Force Base is one of the largest bases nationwide) who has come to call San Antonio home. Her elaborate tour of the CIA campus included a visit to its restaurant SAVOR. As part of their studies, San Antonio students prepare all of the food, and the aspiring pastry chefs actually have to run the whole show from accounting and advertising to menu selections and food prep for a day. These budding chefs learn all sides of the business and graduate truly prepared. The CIA has four campuses – the main campus is in Hyde Park, New York, two locations in California, the San Antonio campus and one in Singapore. Since the San Antonio Campus located in the Historic Pearl district has the only Latin Kitchen (including the nation’s only Mesa machine), there is a mandatory two week stint in the Latin Kitchen for every campus that must be completed here on the River Walk. It’s obvious that the culinary education here is exemplary!
Historic Pearl District
A mile or so down the riverwalk, you will find the statuesque Rio Plaza. Melanie Planas introduced us to this regal representation of the Spanish architectural grandeur of San Antonio. This gorgeous venue with its elegant stone exterior hosts events from showers and weddings, to graduations and Quinceanera celebrations and even corporate events.
See the pictures captured at the breathtaking Rio Plaza below
Spanish architecture, mosaic tile, native woodwork, and Texas grandeur abound in their seven private spaces which accommodate 20 to 200 guests and pay homage to the rich traditions of this city set on the river. The obvious respect and admiration for the history of San Antonio and the River Walk in general is apparent. Standing on the River Walk, mere feet from the famed Selena Bridge, it’s impossible to avoid being swept away by the nostalgia of the past and the peace that comes with residing on the San Antonio river as you gaze upon the water from the rooftop terrace.
I simply cannot wait to share the splendor of San Antonio and its rich traditions with you in the future, via Sam Willis in Sam’s Movin’,Groovin’, Cookin’ Club!!!
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