I like seeing a chef this way- swimming in the water drinking a beer with his dog. He is in his element, at ease and enjoying life. All too often, I meet chefs, buttoned up in their whites, speaking formally about food and service. The relationship is then built on marketing alone, rehashing the niceties of the cuisine they make and why you should dine at their place.
Every time I interview a chef, I want to to have the heart-to-heart conversation that reveals, ” I love food, I hope you do too. Let’s get the marketing thing out of the way and have a REAL conversation about the food you make and why you love it.”
Sometimes this happens, sometimes it doesn’t. Chefs have been set apart – we put them on a pedestal because they feed us so well. The speak to us in a vocabulary of flavor and through our own speechlessness, we swoon. In reality, it can be just as lovely to see them as real people with passions that succeed and fail.
I meet a chef, Anthony “Tony” Marsico and his wife, pastry chef and manager Angela Marsico during our stay in Hopkins. They run the Beaches and Dreams Resort, a five-room hotel that houses the now famous, Barracuda Bar and Grill. Both Tony and Angela are so down-to-earth that we knew right away that this was the kind of place that we would enjoy. They talked with us like they had known us for years – no pretenses, no ego – just comfort and relaxation.
Here they were – cooks you could talk to – like real people.
After we checked in, we could not wait for dinner.
Tony and Angela hail from Alaska in the US, where they ran a restaurant for close to 3 decades. Tony wrote a weekly column in Alaska on all-things cooking, and continues to write his own blog. They came to Belize for change. “We loved it here and wanted to do something different.” Tony said matter-of-factly, his tone always reflecting an assuredness about exactly what he was doing.
I watched Tony cook- bringing out pound after pound chicken and fish to his homemade smoker. Angela whipped up her spoon-licking delicious creme brulee that was topped with freshly shaved coconut. “We get a lot of good and different ingredients here.” said Angela. Her pies have gained her a local reputation. “I do make a good crust.” she said smiling. Her key lime pie is the perfect mix of cream and sour limes, with a salty-sweet crust.
We ate plate after plate of fresh fish, smoked meat and Tony’s delicious lentils. Tony uses both local and imported spices to season the ingredients. “I do something a little familiar to travelers.” Tony is trained in continental and Mediterranean styles of cooking. “I like to call my cooking, ‘Mediteribbean’.”
Our girls enjoyed their from-scratch pizza, topped with creamy whole milk mozzarella. The crust, also from-scratch was crispy and chewy. We ordered every dessert, every night of our stay at Beached and Dreams. The girls were initially hesitant, poking at the creme brulee. Almost as soon as they dipped in, they licked the plate clean. They asked two times: “Can we have more?”
Tony and Angela are the consummate hosts and cooks.
Beaches and Dreams – Barracuda Bar and Grill, fills up fast. Call for reservations when you are in Hopkins.
International: 011-501-523-7259 National: 523-7259
Kristin Fuhrmann Simmons