Last December, we had a special guest in the kitchen who has not only made a tremendous impact on our young women, but on many of her peers across the globe. Sixteen year old Lara Cortes, who was traveling Southeast Asia for the first time with her parents, stopped by for a market tour and Thai cooking class!

Holding the 2018 title of Miss Teen Puerto Rico, Lara is an accomplished athlete, artist, and musician. She loves swimming, and is often found snorkeling in her beach hometown of Isabela, PR. Here we ask her what her favorite part of hanging in the Courageous Kitchen was and how she enjoys giving back to her community in Isabela.

CK: Did you have any expectations of Bangkok before your arrival?

LC: Not really, once I found out I was going to Thailand I was just ecstatic to travel and broaden my horizons. I wanted to fill my mind with experiences and stories to learn and tell to others.

CK: How did it live up to that?

LC: Thailand surpassed my expectations, everything was just amazing and so filled with culture, beautiful sights to see and especially amazing, friendly people.

CK: Can you tell us a little bit about your experience with Courageous Kitchen?

LC: It was an amazing experience meeting the girls who run the class. I believe they are capable of amazing things if they keep working as hard as they do.

Lara learned to make mango and sticky rice in our cooking class in Bangkok.

I also enjoyed going to the market and learning about the vegetables and fruit we were going to cook with in the class. My favorite dishes to make were Tom Yum and Mango Sticky Rice.

CK: What was your favorite memory from your trip?

LC: My favorite memory of the trip would be when we went to Chiang Mai and spent the whole day at the elephant sanctuary, feeding them, walking with them and of course bathing them.

Lara at Elephant Nature Park in Chiang Mai

CK: Any advice for first time young travelers to Bangkok? 

LC: The best advice I can give any young traveler like myself is do your research and have fun! Things will inevitably go wrong, but if you’ve done your research, it’s easier to keep your cool and focus on getting past big obstacles young travelers face like homesickness, fatigue, and culture shock.

CK: What’s the best part of holding the ‘Miss Teen Puerto Rico’ title?

LC: The best part of holding the title is being able to use it to inspire others while giving a helping hand to those in need. I give back to my community by visiting children with down syndrome and I encourage other teens like myself to give back by helping the less fortunate. 

The best part of holding the title is being able to use it to inspire others while giving a helping hand to those in need…

We want to thank Lara and her parents for taking our cooking class and volunteering with our young women. We appreciate Lara’s courageous spirit, and are confident that if she continues to be so passionate about giving back, great things await in her future!

Follow Lara’s journey on her Facebook Page.