Our Community - Rommy Kie - "Tempting tummies in San Pedro"

The Island Newspaper, Ambergris Caye, Belize            Vol. 10, No. 35            August 30, 2000

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Rommy Kie

A special dinner in San Pedro can range from a variety of choices. Italian, American, Mexican, Cantonese, Belizean or Cajun dishes are just a few of the many selections one can choose from. But not anyone can just put on that fluffy white hat and pretend to be a gastronomical professional. It takes interest, creativity (and probably many things burned) to become one. This week's personality comes from afar to share his native dishes with the people of and visitors to San Pedro - Mr. Rommy Kie.

    On September 7th, 1953, Rommy Kie was born in Hong Kong, China where he was also raised. After finishing high school he was employed as an office worker for an electronic watch exportation company for six years. In 1976, Rommy decided to pay a visit to his three brothers, who resided in Ontario, Canada. Because residents of Hong Kong cannot get a visa to travel directly to Canada, he decided to fly to Belize first and then head on to Canada. After his arrival to Belize, he visited some members of his family and decided to stay a while before continuing his journey. Destiny had a different plan for him though, for the longer he stayed in Belize, the more he liked it and eventually lost interest in going to Canada. He went to work in his family's business - The Golden Dragon Restaurant - as a waiter and a part-time cook for the next two years.

    Although Rommy was very happy living in Belize, in 1978, he moved to Riverside, California, USA after being offered the opportunity to work there by the owners of Dragon of the Palace Restaurant. A couple of months in the USA was enough time to convince himself that Belize was the place for him. Returning to Belize City and confident with the cooking skills he had learned in Hong Kong, Belize and California, he opened his own restaurant near the MCC Grounds (Princess Hotel) which he called Barracks Restaurant. He also became the proprietor of Han's Guest House in the city. Rommy then married Neri Ramos, a Belizean woman he had met while living there. They are the parents of two sons, Ronnie, 19 and Randie, 9.

    Rommy's reputation as a masterful chef and his business became well-known. In 1984, word of his fine cooking reached San Pedro and the owners of The Jade Garden Restaurant (located at the Barrier Reef Hotel at that time) offered him the opportunity to temporarily manage their restaurant while they went on vacation to Miami. Not knowing what to expect, but confident of his managerial and cooking skills, he accepted the offer and moved to San Pedro for two months. Rommy immediately fell in love with the island. He recalls his first impression was, "Wow, this is Paradise." At the end of his two month stay, he returned to Belize City with new plans. He sold both restaurant and guest house and in 1986, relocated permanently in San Pedro.

    After settling in his new found paradise, Rommy secured a location on Pescador Drive where he opened a pastry shop. Only two months in this business, he was offered the opportunity that would make him a celebrity in San Pedro. Mr. Ramon Nuñez of Ramon's Village offered him the choice to take over the lease of the restaurant at the resort which he gladly accepted. In 1988, the owner of Ramon's Village, Mr. Richard Headrick, assured of Rommy's potential, sent him to New Orleans, Louisiana, USA for a Cajun cooking course at the world-famous Kpaul Louisiana Kitchen. This new course expanded his skills and he has since been a cooking marvel, making Ramon's Restaurant a favorite of tourists and locals for the past fourteen years.

    Rommy says that destiny is what brought him to Belize and the friendly people kept him here. He calls San Pedro his second home and his paradise. He says the culinary arts are a wonderful profession. In speaking to those interested in this profession he says, "To be a chef or cook you really have to have a passion for it. You have to read a lot, learn to take instructions and also be creative."   

    Today, Rommy employs thirteen people at his restaurant which prides itself in delectable Cantonese, Cajun and Belizean cooking. Rommy is a transplant from Hong Kong that works seven days a week to ensure scrumptious, taste-tempting treats for his customers. His oriental background and Belizean cooking experience make Rommy Kie a welcome culinary master in "Our Community."

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