Tropical Flavours with A Twist

Great food has more than one flavour. A meal needs all five tastes: salty, sweet, sour, bitter and umami to really sing. There’s no better way to learn how to perfectly blend flavours together than by travelling the world and learning from the best chefs, and that’s exactly what the Executive Chef at Guana Island resort has done.

Born and raised in Mexico City, Chef Kael Mendoza creates fabulous dishes for Guana Island guests. Drawing on his experiences travelling the world and cooking in some of the world’s greatest restaurants, he provides international dishes with a Caribbean twist, all while using fresh organic foods grown on the island.

“I remember great food from my mom that made me fall in love with tasty food. I then started watching chefs on TV and it always looked so fun to be cooking in a kitchen,” said Mendoza. “People were always smiling so I decided that I wanted to do something as fun as those chefs.”

After finishing his culinary training, he began working in top restaurants all around the world, including Michelin-starred El Raco de Can Fabes in Barcelona and El Celler de Can Roca in Catalunya, Spain, which has been ranked – twice – as the number two best restaurant in the world. He has also worked at Grand Fiesta Americana in California, and this year’s fifth-ranked restaurant in the world, Geranium in Copenhagen, Denmark. After spending some time cooking at the elegant Amanyara resort in Turks and Caicos, he was asked to join the Guana Island team.

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“The best experience about cooking at Guana is that you have the freedom to cook what is fresh from the orchard and what the local fishermen deliver each day. The creativity, respect of the product and fresh food is the base for our daily menus and that’s every chef’s dream,” said Mendoza.

Mendoza’s team sources many ingredients from the amazing orchard and chicken farm on the island. Each day fresh produce and eggs are delivered to the resort and incorporated into the day’s menu so every ingredient is used at its peak freshness. Fruits, vegetables, aromatic herbs and microgreens all change with the seasons and find their way into Mendoza’s creative dishes.

In addition to ingredients found on Guana Island, as many products as possible are sourced from local BVI farms and fishermen.

“We have great respect for every product we get. For us, a great tomato is just as wonderful as a good fish or a good cut of meat. Every ingredient is an important tool in our menus and we need to respect the flavour of everything to bring harmony in our dishes,” said Mendoza.

Guana Island guests enjoy a variety of flavours and tastes but comment most on a smoked eggplant soup, the orchard salad and snapper cooked in a coconut jerk sauce with roasted vegetables. Mendoza’s personal favourite dish to cook is mole sauce and says he could eat tacos every day of his life.

“The most rewarding part of being a chef will always be expressing myself in a dish. Plating your feelings and professional experiences is something amazing and even more when your guest or customer feels it,” said Mendoza. “It’s a great experience every time you make something new and how it represents the person that you are.”

 

Sara Sherman
Sara Sherman is a former St. Thomas resident and the editor of Virgin Islands Property & Yacht.
Sara Sherman

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