Just recently the Belize Tourism Board held
its first-ever Cultural and Culinary Gala. This event, which showcased some of
Belize's great cultural groups also brought together some of the most
distinguished chefs from Belize to compete for the newest and best signature
dish in Belize. Although only two chefs represented Ambergris Caye, we have our
fair share of these culinary experts who delight us daily with their
masterpieces. It is with that in mind that we present to you a local woman who
has made her mark in this business with original creations - Jennie
Jennie was born in San Pedro to well-known
Sanpedranos Elvia and Enrique Staines Sr. (deceased) on May 14th, 1968. As a child, Jennie cherished the
sand, sun and sea that embraced her. Jennie is the youngest of her close-knit
family consisting of three sisters and two brothers. Like many of the children
of the island, Jennie attended San Pedro Roman Catholic School and then San
Pedro High School where she was active in sports and a leader in school
functions. Jennie graduated in 1986 and immediately went to work at Elvi's
Kitchen, (her parents' restaurant) as a cashier and part-time bartender. After
two years of being involved in the restaurant business, Jennie expressed an
interest in the culinary arts to her mother.
assignment was as a kitchen worker, peeling potatoes and doing other minor tasks
in food preparation. Jennie worked her way up in the kitchen's positions and
soon found herself giving suggestions and ideas for new dishes. Seeing much
potential in Jennie, her mother sent her to take a culinary course at Michigan
Partners Correspondence School. This was followed by practical training in
Florida. She also received a certificate in management from the Belize Institute
of Management (BIM). Jennie then received a scholarship from USAID and C.A. Mior
Corporation to train at Paul Charles Crab Restaurant in Deerfield Beach,
Florida. Jennie says her most recent opportunity was a scholarship she received
to attend the Mundo Maya Organization at the Escuela de Gastronomia in Cozumel,
Mexico which topped all of her other cooking lessons. She learned about Mayan
culture, their seasonings and various cooking techniques. While acquiring all of
these skills Jennie was named Executive Chef at the renowned Elvi's Kitchen, a
position she held for thirteen years. Needing a change, Jennie was then employed
as the Head Chef at Victoria House Resort where she shared her exquisite dishes
for almost a year.
Having mastered this art and
confident of her talent, Jennie decided it was time to make her long-life dream
of owning her own restaurant a reality. On February 12th, 2001, Caliente Mexican and Caribbean
Cuisine opened its door to the public. Just another island restaurant? Not if
Jennie is the proprietor. The brightly colored eatery with a Mexican/Caribbean
motif is located at the Spindrift Hotel and offers only the best of fine foods.
Through her extensive culinary education, Jennie prepares original dishes with
homemade ingredients and secret sauces that satisfy even the most demanding of
palates. Speaking about her business, Jennie told the San Pedro
Sun, "At first I was a little skeptical about the business. My
expectations were limited. I thought it would take a long time for the business
to kick off but to my great surprise it has been very successful in the short
time I have been open. I thank God, the business community and all the locals
who have been so supportive."
Although a very busy woman,
Jennie makes certain to spend quality time with her two children Almita (11) and
Oscar (7). Like so many locals, Jennie also enjoys a good fishing trip or a
relaxing day with her friends and family.
Jennie has come
a long way from being a kitchen helper to an executive chef and now a restaurant
owner. Her culinary talents are well recognized in San Pedro and she strongly
believes that quality food is what breeds customer satisfaction. Adding zest to
her delightful dishes, Jennie Staines is certainly an example of the "spice"
found only in "Our Community."