Visitors may come to Belize for the reef, the ruins, or the relaxation, but they have to eat - and often times, the call on whether a vacation was good or bad, comes down to how good the food was.

And that's why raising the standards for Belizean chefs has been a long time quest. But now, it's gotten a real shot in the arm with the Culinary Institute of America coming to Belize to provide training for eight local chefs.

The idea is to bring Belize's culinary creations to an international level. We found out more about the intensive programme for Pro Chef Culinarians:

Jim Scott, General Manager, Radisson
"I think it's great for both from the tourism perspective and also from a local perspective when we certify chefs like this. It opens our local minds up to culinary opportunities and pleasing our pallets but it also adds greater value to having more individuals who are certified, who are trained to serve the diverse and very competitive needs of those who come here and visit us."

The graduates include Elliot Almendarez who has his own catering business and Rueben Cano. Both come from varying backgrounds and work experience - and they told us how the training will factor into their work:..

Rueben Cano, Chef de Cuisine
"Well, I come from a family where we love to cook. I was not really into it but I did my cooking home making a simple eggs or something like that and on Sundays I would help my mom do the rice and beans, local Belizean food. Things occurred in our family that my father passed away and so my brother he, followed the culinary field so I used him as an example and I followed his footsteps."

Jim McFadzean
"It's a lot to cooking than most people realized, it has to do especially when you are doing it in the hospitality industry where you have to worry about cost and all that. This certification course it's an international certification. What have you learn from this international certification?"

Rueben Cano, Chef de Cuisine
"For example when you are making a soup we use simple water, we would de-bone the chicken depending on how you would want it and we threw away the bones. With that you can make a stock, the same stock you us to create a soup. you us your carrots, the skin from a carrots, the end you usually cut the end of the carrots, you can cut that off and put that in there, you create flavors into the water that you can get that nice flavor than using pure water. Instead of just cutting it and throwing it away we use it so the cost do not go up."

Jim McFadzean
"How many year you have in terms of the cooking experience?"

Elliot Almendarez, Certified Culinarian
"The cooking experience, it's over 10 years cooking experience but not with a whole group like this. I usually do it alone, with my experience here I learned to do food cost so I can deal with my business a little bit better."

Jim McFadzean
"You said you've been involved in cooking for the last 10 years, were you employed in the tourism industry, in the hospitality industry?"

Elliot Almendarez, Certified Culinarian
"I was around the field like in the same place but I was doing a lot of things."

Jim Mcfadzean
"So you had never worked as a cook in the industry before?"

Elliot Almendarez, Certified Culinarian
"I was in the kitchen, but not as a chef, they had a chef there, but eventually I started doing what the chefs were doing also. So we start helping each other and I learned to cook like that."

Jim McFadzean
"So being in the environment was what sparked your interest in actually becoming a chef?"

Elliot Almendarez, Certified Culinarian
"Yes."

The training was held at the Institute for Technical and Vocational Educational Training (ITVET). The Pro Chef program marks the final year of project activities executed in Belize under the Capacity Building: Tourism Training and Certification project.

Channel 7