Our Community – Jennie Staines

The Island Newspaper, Ambergris Caye, Belize            Vol. 16, No. 38            September 21, 2006

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Jennie’s great cooking skills have made her restaurant “Caliente” a wild success!

The cooking diversity in Ambergris Caye is simply incredible. Dishes of all tastes and flavors are available right at your fingertips. Providing just that for you is none other than Jennie Staines, who we proudly feature in this week’s “Our Community”.

    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 surrounded and 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.

    Her first 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 and Oscar. 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.”

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