Belizean food highlighted at BTIA’s cultural cuisine training
Wednesday, November 9th, 2022
A Belizean culinary experience led by well-known Chef Sean Kuylen and food scholar Dr. Lyra Spang was held from November 7-8 in San Pedro Town. It highlighted some of the best traditional dishes the country has to offer. Under the auspices of the Belize Tourism Industry Association (BTIA) San Pedro Chapter, the event served as a training for local chefs. Dubbed ‘Raising the Bar on Belizean Cuisine,’ the course further increased the participants’ skills in preparing cultural dishes. This regional cooking can now become part of their restaurants’ menus and provide guests with a delicious Belizean experience.
The interactive training involved classroom instructions and hands-on cooking, culminating in a demonstration dinner at the Hidden Treasure Restaurant and Lounge south of San Pedro. The two-day training focused on discovering and sourcing local ingredients, developing innovative recipes, inspiring a new generation of chefs, and applying the tradition of Belize’s multi-ethnic cuisine. The training also served as a guide to explore ways to enhance the dining experience in San Pedro’s stand-alone restaurants and luxurious resort dining rooms.
Dr. Spang hosted the theoretical part of the training and shared with the chefs participating the importance of local cooking. They learned to create high-end plates with local ingredients instead of imported goods. Spang said the chefs could take these experiences and knowledge of their culinary heritage, which can be elevated and shared with the world. There should be no reason to leave your Belizean identity behind and focus only on preparing foreign food to delight your guests. Spang hopes the chefs went home encouraged and excited.
Chef Kuylen said that his job is to inspire. “I like to inspire Belizean cuisine. We know they can cook, but we want to inspire them,” said Kuylen. “My job is to promote local Belizean cuisine. We should showcase more of the local food Belize has to offer.” He noted that it might be challenging in San Pedro because most products are barged over from the mainland, but it is possible. This culinary experience will allow tourists to experience Belize on a plate.
It was noted that some of the traditional dishes linked to San Pedro, like the fish soup known as Chechak, were almost unknown to many people. As a result, organizers emphasized the need to continue cooking and promoting these delicacies for future generations and the island’s cultural food sector.
The training also included a section with drinks, such as Dark Rum Seaweed Colada, Hiu, and Cassava Sahou. In the food part, the demo dishes showcased Eggplant dip, Toasted Cassava Bread to Conch and Snapper Coconut seafood, Annatto Chechak, Dukunu, Roasted Garlic Atole, Fish Lancha, Jippy Jappa, Darasa, Smoke Hash Fish, Relleno Blanco, local turkey stuffed with ground pork, green papaya cooked in white lime, Pinole chocolate tamale, gluten-free plantain, chocolate cake, coconut seaweed panna cotta, Orange Hol Choch, Saffron chicken broth, Cassava bread bruschetta, Conch and Longaniza meat pie and more.
The BTIA said these events have been in the pipeline for quite some time but were delayed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. According to them, the aim is to contribute to the tourism industry’s development, growth, and sustainability.
The training now moves to San Ignacio Town, Cayo District, and will end in Hopkins Village, Stann Creek District in Southern Belize.
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