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Team Belize will compete in this year’s Taste of the Caribbean

Team Belize will once again be competing in the Taste of the Caribbean Competition being held in Miami, Florida. The competition lasts from June 22 to June 25 and the chefs who make up the team have sacrificed their Sundays to practice as much as possible before the competition starts. The media was invited to this past Sunday’s practice session and Love News Reporter, Courtney Menzies, got to sample some of the finest cuisine from some of the finest chefs.

Courtney Menzies: “If you have seen the show Chopped on the Food network you know the type of skill, dedication, and pressure that goes into creating the perfect dish before it is judged. Well, Team Belize which consists of Chef Sean Kuylen, Eva Longsworth, Rohel Lisby, Maria Urbina, Elisa Carr, as well as bartender Mark Jacobs, will be participating in a similar competition this coming weekend. The team’s manager Rob Pronk told us more about what it would be like in the Taste of the Caribbean Competition.”

Rob Pronk – Team Manager: “Basically it is a mystery basket competition so we don’t know in advance what kind of foods we are going to get, what kind of proteins so we get that thrown at us and we have to come up with ideas to put that. We have four hours in total to cook for forty people so it is 420 plates that we have to put out in four hours time. We have some ideas prepared, what we are going to do, we don’t know exactly what we are going to do, it is still a mystery. It is a team competition, of course, that is what the whole team is going into and then there are the individual competitions: there is the seafood competition, there is beef competition, of course, there is the Bartender competition, there is the Master Chef Competition and there is the Junior Chef Competition.”

Courtney Menzies: “We also spoke to Chef Kuylen, Longsworth and Urbina, as well as the mixologist/ Bartender Mark Jacobs about what their role will be in the competition and how they have been preparing for it.”

Chef Kuylen – Senior Chef: “I am in the individual Beef competition and we are going with the team competition.”

Courtney Menzies: “So that means that you would have prepared the roast beef for us today?”

Chef Kuylen – Senior Chef: “Yes but what happened is we can only prepare and try to figure out what they are going to give us. The meat, the way of cooking will be dictated by the cut of meat so if they give us a nice piece of meat maybe we can grill it medium or medium rare however if they give us something tough like crowfoot we have to what you call braise it so we really don’t know. When we are playing today, it is not playing but we are practicing to get all the curve balls they can give us.”

Eva Longsworth – Senior Chef: “I am competing in this competition under the capacity of the second Senior Chef. I am also competing in the individual competition for the Chef of Year which is the most challenging of all the competitions because unlike the other categories we do not know what we are going to get so it really is any protein that they throw at us and any ingredients that they have available so you just have to be ready, be fast and be on your witts. Normally when I put a plate together I think of the different components of flavor: bitter, salty, sweet, umami and I particularly like earth flavors so I put together sauces that have rich bodies in terms of textures as well, you know crunchy, smooth and I put one of each element on the plate and I make sure that they pair well together.”

Maria Urbina – Pastry Chef: “Well I am in charge of dessert, I am competing in the individual Pastry Competition, as well as I will prepare the dessert for the team.”

Courtney Menzies: “So you made the black cake and Ice cream as well? He says he prepares by cooking different cuts of beef. How do you prepare with your deserts?”

Maria Urbina – Pastry Chef: “Well I have been putting together the elements. I do cakes every day so I am comfortable with that but when you plate it you have to put different elements on it so I have been practicing what flavors go along with the black cake and how to plate it.”

Mark Jacobs – Bartender/ Mixologist: “It is a four-round competition for the Taste of the Caribbean, there is a Non-Alcoholic Cocktail Competition, there is also a Vodka Competition which is a culinary competition. There is Classic Cocktail Competition where you create a classic cocktail with your own twist to it and also there is a mystery basket cocktail so I don’t want to share all these secrets that I did today because those are the drinks that I am going to be making in the Taste of the Caribbean so I will keep it a little secret.”

Courtney Menzies: “The team will be shadowed by two winners from the Taste of Belize 2018 Competition. One of the Those winners Chef Eliza Carr spoke to us about the category she will be competing in.”

Eliza Carr – Taste of Belize Winner: “I am competing in seafood, I don’t want to be overconfident because all part of the Caribbean they eat seafood so I am trying to do a little bit of a twist and stuff to my plating, especially plating.”

Courtney Menzies: “The team won a unified Silver Medal last year and they are hoping to bring back the gold this year. Reporting for Love News this is Courtney Menzies.”

Love News wishes Team Belize all the best in the competition./////