New training by a star chef Edward Mendoza will transport Belize Food at Chaa Creek to a “whole new level”
We’ve just received word that The Lodge at Chaa Creek has engaged the services of globetrotting and internationally renowned Chef Edward Mendoza to take the already highly regarded kitchen & Belize Food to “the next level,” in the words of co-owner GM Lucy Fleming.
Chef Mendoza arrives at Chaa Creek October 20, 2015, and the excitement has been, well… palatable.
The Augusta, Georgia native has been creating ripples far and wide since he graduated university and went on to earn an associates degree in culinary arts in the foodie mecca of Vail, Colorado, where he also gained experience as a line cook. Then it was on to Louis’ of Charleston, South Carolina where he perfected classic French techniques with a southern flair.
Next step was Southern California, where Edward worked as executive chef at La Palapa Del Mar in Long Beach. With more experience and accolades under his belt he moved on to Dallas to work in some of that sophisticated city’s most distinguished restaurants, starting at Nana Grill before working up to becoming sous chef at Lola the Restaurant. During his time at Lola the restaurant was voted as the “Best in Dallas” two years in a row by D magazine as well as receiving 5 stars from the Dallas Morning News.
In 2006, Edward opened Kitchen 1924, where he was identified in the foodie bible Bon Appetit as a “Rising Star Chef.” He went on to Bijoux and was part of the team that garnered the restaurant 5 Stars while it was voted best restaurant for 2006 by the Dallas Morning News and made the Bon Appetit Top 10.
Obviously not one to rest on laurels, Edward then helped open the Le Cordon Blue School of Culinary Arts in Dallas and served as opening chef and teacher while expanding his classic French cuisine horizons in Ottawa, Canada. To stay on top of his game he also annually attends the International Star Chefs Congress in New York, a three-day culinary symposium that attracts the world’s most influential and innovative chefs.
No wonder he’s been corporate chef at major events like the Masters, U.S. Open, Kentucky Derby, Super Bowl, and the Salt Lake City Olympics.
We’re told he’s also been a chef at Walt Disney for a year now, and is a certified sommelier.
What brings a star like Chef Edward to the middle of a pristine Belizean rainforest at Chaa Creek?
One clue may be found in a reviews published in Augusta magazine, which declared; “like a sower of fine tastes, executive chef and international traveller Edward Mendoza operates as a porter of flavour, spreading seeds of culinary secrets from one region of the world to another,” and described his goal at Kitchen 1454 “to bring “five-star techniques to a casual atmosphere.”
The article goes on to say that Chef Edward, “relishes learning about indigenous foods, the preparation techniques and optimal accompaniments”, and relates how, when he went to Southeast Asia to learn Vietnamese and Thai cuisines, he wound up teaching classes in preparing authentic Texas barbecue.
Chaa Creek has long been known for having an eclectic approach to Belize food, with Belizean home-style, and nouvelle Maya fusion living comfortably alongside classic Italian and other cuisines, and, diners say, some of Belize’s best burgers. And the emphasis on organic, farm fresh ingredients and healthy presentations are the sorts of things Chef Edward should feel right at home with.
Another thing Chaa Creek has always focussed on is training and staff development for young Belizeans. The eco-resort’s food and beverage manager and assistant GM, Bryony Bradley said some twenty Belizeans from Chaa Creek and the Guava Limb Café in San Ignacio will benefit from the intensive one month training program Chef Edward will be part of. It’s safe to say that Chef Edward’s teaching experience will have as much of a long lasting impact as his culinary prowess.
With the onsite Maya organic farm to draw upon (while reducing farm to table miles as part of the ever – Green, sustainable ethos of the Fleming family), fresh seafood from the nearby Caribbean sea, and the livestock, cheeses and other dairy products Belize’s lush pastures produce, and having a team of enthusiastic young Belizeans champing at the bit to hone their skills, Chef Edward will have plenty to work with.
We, as diners, couldn’t be happier.