Belize Best Flavors Take on The Caribbean
Right now, 5 Belizean culinary experts are preparing to compete in this year's Taste of the Caribbean. It's a regional competition in which the Caribbean's best chefs and culinary teams go up against each other to see who's the best of the best in the kitchen. It also serves a great marketing tool for each competing country to put their best dishes on display.
This year, with the support of the Belize Tourism Board, the team of 5 Belizeans competing are Team manager, Rob Pronk, Senior Chef Sean Kuylen, Senior Chef Evan Longsworth, Junior Chef Rojel Lisbey, Pastry Chef Maria Urbina, and Bartender Mark Jacobs. The tournament will be held from June 22nd to the 25th in Miami, Florida.
And as a sort of preparation for the Taste of the Caribbean, the BTB held an event this weekend to show just what the Belizean chefs are capable of. It happened yesterday at the ITVET compound, and 7News stopped by. Here's what the BTB Director had to say about Belize's chances of winning the competition:
Karen Bevans - Director, BTB
"We believe that when travelers visit Belize, and leave from here, the #1 thing the spoke about is our food, second, our people. So, our people and our food always stand out, and leave and good experience in the minds of our travelers. I think we were in the past not taking ourselves to another level, taking ourselves out there in the region, so people could know of Belize, and what Belize has to offer. So, we started last year, and we plan to continue. The reception year has been great. The team did a very, very good job. We got the silver, and we expect that this year, we will do even better. They've been practicing; this is the fifth preparation session, and we expect that good results will come back home."
"So, how do you go about scoping out to find the perfect chefs to create the team?"
"No, we have the Taste of Belize competition every 2 years, and the winners from the Taste of Belize attend the Taste of the Caribbean."
"So, tell us how the competition works. You said it's like chopped?"
Rob Pronk - Professional Chef
"Yeah, basically, it's a mystery basket competition. So, we don't know in advanced 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]. We have 4 hours totally to cook for 40 people. So, that's 3 times 4, a 120 plates we have to put out in 4 hours time. We are prepared. We have some ideas [about] what we're gonna do, but we don't know exactly what we're gonna do. It's still a mystery."
Sean Kuylen - Professional Chef
"The way of cooking will be dictated by the cut of meat. So, 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 do like braise it. So, we really don't know. So, when we're playing today. It's not playing, but we're practicing to get all the curve balls that they can give us, you know, like chopped. So, we don't know they will give us, but we've been practicing."
"How do you prepare with your desserts?"
Maria Urbina - Professional Baker
"I've been putting together the elements - well, I do cakes everyday, so I'm comfortable with that. But, when you plate it, you have to put different elements on it. So, I've been practicing what flavors go along with the black cake, and how to make it - how to plate it."
The BTB notes that last year, Team Belize brought home a unified silver medal. They also received silver and bronze in other individual competitions.