A team of six Belizean professionals in the culinary industry competed over the past three days in the regional Taste of the Caribbean Competition held in Miami, Florida. The Belize Tourism Board pooled together the likes of Sean Kuylen, Eva Longsworth, Robert Pronk among others to battle in several categories including master and junior chefs, pastry as well as bartending. They went up against fifteen countries for three grueling days. But in the end, the unique fusion of spices authentic to Belize excited the taste buds of the judges. Today, they returned home with the overall silver medal, while four members of the team won bronze in their individual categories. The last time Belize competed in the regional culinary competition was fifteen years ago. The media caught up with the team as they touched down at the P.G.I.A.
Robert Pronk, Coach, Team Belize
“It’s like the culinary Olympics of the Caribbean. Five days of competing and we did extremely well; better than we all expected. We are happy and proud and we brought back medals.”
“How many medals and for what categories?”
“As a team we brought back the silver medal. Maria got a bronze one for pastry; Mark here got a bronze one for bartending; Einar also and of course Eva here brought the master chef bronze medal as well. So I think with the little preparation we had, we did extremely well.”
Sean Kuylen, Chef, Team Belize
“We went with a different approach. We said that Belize is very unique because we are Central America and the Caribbean so we have the Maya, the Mestizo; we have chocolate, we have recado negro and rojo so that was our approach. So we noh know weh deh wah give we fi cook and on our mystery day, we got beef, whole chicken and we get pork. So we made a recado relleno negro and we full it ina wah piece of chicken breast and we reduce that. And before we left the bar here at the Philip Goldson, we took some chocolate stout because it is in season in March. So we made a braised chocolate stout short rib and we put some cacao nib from Ixcacao down in Maya Center. Bwai look yah, dehn neva know if we dah from Saint Lucia. First of all, if dehn neva hear about Belize bredda, dehn know bout Belize now and we have to go back.”
Einar Marin, Bronze Medal, Junior Chef
“The first day we reach and they look intimidating. So much people deh deh every year, the whole year dehn di practice and we just had three practices but we felt confident after the first day. From the first day at 3:05, we made an impact because so much people came to our table because they were interested in what we did. From a simple panty-ripper that we had, it was a big explosion for everybody that we ran out of food, panty-ripper. And from the other teams, they are sending sixteen, seventeen-year-olds that are there learning and I guess that’s something that we should focus more on.”
The winning team was from Trinidad and took home a gold plate as the trophy.