Our Belize Community – Chef Ainsley Roy Castro

The Island Newspaper, Ambergris Caye, Belize            Vol. 17, No. 39            October 4, 2007

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Chef Ainsley loves cooking and wants to share this love with others. He enjoys using ingredients that one can find in the stores.

The culinary explosion in Belize is tremendous. Often described as one of the best places in the world to eat, Belize has a mix of cultures which ignites the food world into full on blazes. Between Caribbean, Indian, American, Greek and many, many more international cuisine choices, Belize has chefs trained in making tongues tingle in delight. “Tropical Nouveau” as Belize’s cuisine has been described, is the blend of the traditional recipes with the unmistakable Belizean touch. One such person bringing this spark is no other than the Radisson’s Chef Ainsley.

    Born the first of a family comprised of four brother and two sisters, Ainsley was born in Punta Gorda, Toledo District on December 21st, 1977. Rosie was a single mother who struggled to put her seven children through school, as well as take care of the costs of running a household. When Ainsley was in second form at the Toledo Community College he chose to drop out, find a job and help with the family expenses.

    After scouting the area for employment, 15-year-old Ainsley chose to move with extended family members who resided in Belize City. Far away from home, Ainsley began seeking any job offers until he found one as a deli helper at Brodie’s Supermarket. There he would assist in the clean up of the deli who serviced the work force of the city. “Brodie’s deli concentrated more on selling sandwiches and pastries that people enjoyed and still do to this day,” he commented.

    Six months afterward, Ainsley got accepted for the post of steward at the Radisson Fort George Hotel. As a steward, he was responsible for the daily up keep of the kitchen. “I would have to make sure the stoves are cleaned, as well as the refrigerators. Anything that needed to be clean or remain clean, it was my responsibility.” After a year in this position, Ainsley was promoted to the area of the kitchen, commonly referred to as the cutting section of the kitchen. In this area, he was responsible for prepping veggies and meats for the chefs to cook. “I had no direct hands on cook training at this time. It was assisting as much as I could and watching as much as my eyes could take. I absorbed everything,” he continued.

    Six short months later, Ainsley began to quickly move up the kitchen ladder. He first moved to the “cold line” section where he helped in the preparation of appetizers, salads, sandwiches and so on. Shortly after, it was the hot line where he remains. Today, Ainsley along with his colleagues prepares everything from the sauces to the elaborate meal prepared by the Radisson Fort George Hotel. “We prepare many buffets and one of the most popular is the Friday’s Italian Buffet where we have a wide assortment of pastas, lasagnas, Italian salads, Alfredo sauces, pizzas, the whole works, not to mention our a la carte menu,” he explained.

    Chef Ainsley’s knowledge of the culinary world has grown tremendously, gaining him much recognition among his peers, family, friends and now because of the cooking show which airs on Channel 5 on Wednesdays (Thursdays in San Pedro), his popularity spans nationwide. Along with Chef Rob Prong, Radisson’s gastronomic magnetism has grown to the point of the production of a cook book as well as a DVD of the most favorite recipes. This began two years ago when a joint venture between Radisson and Channel 5 (Great Belize Production) produced the cooking show Belize watches on Wednesdays. “I love cooking and I want to share this love with others. I enjoy using ingredients that the y can find in the stores here. And, we blend it and create dishes that will delight every taste bud in the family,” he stated. Initially, Chef Ainsley did not want to appear on camera, “you are being seen by everyone and you have to know what you are doing before you get on TV. That is why I took the time to learn everything that I needed to know before getting there. It is all about preparation.”

    The recipe book and DVD is a compilation of various recipes and favorites gathered by Chef Ainsley, Chef Rob Prong, Chef Roger (Radisson) and Chef Delvery (Kitchen supervisor). “Cooking is not something everyone wants to do but it becomes very addictive. Producing these delicacies with your hands is wonderful,” Ainsley explains excitedly.

    During his free time, Chef Ainsley spends quality time with his family, common law wife of three years, Katherine Felix and the couple’s two children, Ainsley (7) and Aslyn (3).

    Wanting to further his venture and make something of himself, Ainsley arrived in Belize City with the mind set of making something good out of his life while helping his family. Accomplishing both, he is a prime example of what one can accomplish once a goal has been set. “Young people need to know that they can do anything they want. That today, there is always someone willing to help you in whatever field you might chose to go into. If anyone wants help in the chef world, I am willing to help,” he promised. Nice, charismatic and able to whip up a finger licking good meal, Chef Ainsley continues to beautifully blend tradition with the spice, sass and individuality found in “Our Belize Community.”

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