Ven a Comer or Come to eat!

This sentiment inspired the UTSA Libraries and its Special Collections Department’s annual fundraiser for its Mexican Cookbook Collection. Since 2017, Ven a Comer has been the theme of a multi-course, signature dinner featuring fine food and drink inspired by UTSA’s renowned Mexican Cookbook Collection, one of the country’s largest collections of its kind.

Sponsored annually by the Pearl, Hotel Emma, and the Consulate of Mexico in San Antonio, the dinner is held each year at Hotel Emma’s Elephant Cellar. The excitement around the meal comes with the modern interpretation of the recipes from the cookbooks by a collaboration of both local and Mexican chefs. Diners get to hear and then taste “what’s the twist.” How were these contemporary chefs inspired by the recipes of chefs of yesteryear and what did they do to update the recipe?

Over the years, proceeds from Ven a Comer have gone to support the development and preservation of UTSA’s Mexican Cookbook Collection. The collection includes more than 2,500 items published between 1789 to the present. Among the many gems in the collection are handwritten recipe books providing an intimate view of domestic life and Mexican culinary culture. Other unique items include handwritten manuscripts and an 18th-century cookbook of Latin American recipes, including dishes such as postre de calabacitas de mole negro, gaspacho, zopa de naranja, and potaje escondido.

Adding to the prestige of the collection is the donation in 2019 of rare books and extensive archives by renowned cultural anthropologist Diana Kennedy. The woman who built her expertise in Mexican cuisine through 50 years of travel throughout Mexico donated her “babies,” her antiquarian books, and extensive archives of handwritten research notes, scrapbooks, menus, photographs, publicity and awards, correspondence with key culinary individuals and friends and material documenting the development of her books to UTSA Libraries Special Collections.

We thank everyone who has dined with us over the years, and we are especially grateful to our Hall of Fame Chefs who have cooked for us.

  • Gabriela Cámara, Mexico City’s Restaurant Contramar and San Francisco’s Restaurant Cala
  • Sofía Cortina, Hotel Carlota in Mexico City
  • Juan Cabrera Barrón, the owner of Fonda Fina restaurant in Mexico City
  • John Brand, Hotel Emma, San Antonio
  • Fabian Delgado, Guadalajara’s Pal Real
  • Diego Galicia, Restaurant Mixtli, San Antonio
  • Jaime Gonzalez, Hotel Emma, San Antonio
  • Pedro Jiménez Gurría, Guadalajara Mezcal distiller and expert
  • Elizabeth Johnson, Pharm Table, San Antonio
  • Silvia McCollow, NIDO, Oakland, CA
  • Jennifer Riesman, Hotel Emma, San Antonio
  • Sofia Sada, Culinary Institute of America, San Antonio
  • Roberto Solis, Nectar restaurant in Merida, Mexico
  • Rico Torres, Restaurant Mixtli, San Antonio
  • Laura Zamora, Santo Tomás Winery located in Baja California

We hope to see you at the 2023 installment of Ven a Comer, which has expanded to a month-long series of culinary events.

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