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Belizean Chefs To Present Local Food Internationally

June 21
13:41 2019

The best of Belize’s culinary experts who competed in this year’s Taste of Belize competition and won will now be tested starting this weekend by the best among their ranks in the region in the Taste of the Caribbean competition.

Our pride and joy had a test run last weekend when they put on display at the ITVET on Sunday an array of their dishes for the public to sample with sponsorship from the Belize Tourism Board (BTB).

Led by team manager, Rob Pronk (Chef Rob), the other members include Senior Chef, Sean Kuylen, Senior Chef, Evan Longsworth, Junior Chef, Rojel Lisbey, Pastry Chef Maria Urbina and Bartender Mark Jacobs.

The competition itself takes on the form of the prestigious “Chopped” shown on cable TV, as Chef Rob explained.

“It’s a mystery basket competition. So, we don’t know in advance what kind of fruits we’re gonna get, what kind of proteins. So, we get that thrown at us and we have to come up with ideas to put that together.”

Chef Sean Kuylen told the Reporter that for the team competition they intend to do a version of johnny cakes, but that is if they get ingredients to do that in their mystery basket. If not, they will have to be spontaneous and improvise with what they get.

He personally will take on the competition in the beef category. As he explained, what he ends up making will be dependent on the type and cut of meat he gets to prepare.

“If they give us a nice piece of meat, then we can grill it like medium or medium rare. However, if they give us something tough like a cow-foot or so, we have to like braise it.”

Maria Urbina, who is a professional baker, explained that she is comfortable with making cakes since that is a daily routine for her, but the competition gets really interesting in plating it since it entails adding different elements to it.

There will be time constraints to prepare the dishes, pastries and drinks. All the teams will be given a total of four hours to cook for 40 people. That’s a total of 120 plates they have to prepare in that time frame.

Chef Sean told us that for chefs, cooking is like building and researching on something they already know. He explained that food presentation has changed over the years.

“I see people plating rice and beans very sexy now. But it’s the same elements. We are just sticking to proven techniques. Hopefully our flavors will pull us through.”

BTB Director Karen Bevans told the media this week that when travelers leave Belize, the first things they talk about are our food and our people. So, because these two elements stand out for us, the BTB is taking that good feedback to the region.

Last year, Belize took the silver medal in the competition. This year’s competition will take place in Miami, Florida from Saturday to next week Tuesday and we will have the highlights in next week’s edition of the Reporter.

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