Sous Chef Cooks with Soul at Mahogany Bay's "Shaken" Restaurant

Alex Rodriguez, Sous Chef at Shaken, Mahogany Bay Village, Belize.

Alex Rodriguez, Sous Chef at Shaken, Mahogany Bay Village, Belize.

Alejandro Rodriguez, 27, is an original San Pedrano. He is the oldest of seven children, and at age 13 he started working as a dishwasher at a local bar & grill to help support his family. One day the cook didn't show up for work, so the owner asked Alex if he would like to help prep food in the kitchen — and well, the rest is history!

At age 16, Alex landed a job in the kitchen of a prestigious resort in south Ambergris Caye. There he worked for 11 years before joining Team MBV as the Sous Chef at Shaken, in 2017.

Alex's chicken kebabs on the grill at Mahogany Bay Beach Club on Ambergris Caye's west side. 

Alex's chicken kebabs on the grill at Mahogany Bay Beach Club on Ambergris Caye's west side. 

 

Q. How did you end up at Mahogany Bay Village?

A. I felt that to keep growing I had to get out of my comfort zone after so many years at my previous job. I had an experienced chef friend who encouraged me to believe in myself and aim high, so I made the move. Also, I thought it would be exciting to be on the opening team at such a big resort as MBV.

Q. What do you find unique about Mahogany Bay Village? 

A. It's such a large place! It's not made of cement like the other resorts, it feels like a real village with natural, Belizean-style homes. It's beautiful. Plus, three of my brothers now work here!

Q. What's your favorite dish to cook?

A. I love using the grill for cooking what Belize does best — seafood! I like the special challenge of seafood because it can be expensive and easy to ruin if you're not careful, but it's so fresh and what Belize is known for. I like to cook all different foods, but most visitors to Belize are here for the seafood, and I like making people happy.

Q. What's your favorite dish to eat?

A. Anything but seafood! Hahaha. Actually, I eat shrimp and conch, but not much fish or lobster — I save that for my guests!

Q. Do you have a long-term goal for your career?

A. I'd love to be a Head Chef one day. I know people say it's a lot of stress but I like to be challenged and also to help others learn. I think I can bring something special to the position.

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As a chef you must bring soul to the dishes you cook, and Alex does that. He is always looking at ways of improving his cooking and asks questions and gives suggestions. And he does well giving back what he learns to the younger members of the kitchen team.
— Lisa Sellers, Executive Chef at Mahogany Bay Resort & Beach Club

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Preparation of the Tropical Salad. Jicama is a neutral-tasting root vegetable that adds a lovely crunch to many Caribbean and Latin American dishes.

Preparation of the Tropical Salad. Jicama is a neutral-tasting root vegetable that adds a lovely crunch to many Caribbean and Latin American dishes.

The final presentation: Blackened Local Snapper with Mango Salsa & Tropical Salad.

The final presentation: Blackened Local Snapper with Mango Salsa & Tropical Salad.

BlackenedSnapper

Directions:

1. Season the fish with salt and pepper. 
2. For the dressing, whisk vinegar, mustard, and honey together, then slowly pour in the oil whisking all the while. Then add the citrus to taste, and season with salt & pepper.
3. For the salad, wash the mixed baby greens. For the jicama, peel, and julienne (cut into thin strips), then place into lemon water as it will go brown. Peel and dice avocado and mango. Grate fresh coconut or used shredded unsweetened coconut and toast lightly.
4. For the mango salsa, dice mango, red onion, green & red peppers, and mix chopped cilantro with some extra virgin olive oil. Season with salt & pepper.
5. Dip the fish in the blackened mix, heat a frying pan with oil, sear the fish on both sides and finish in the oven around 4 minutes, serve on the plate with the salad dressed in the vinaigrette, add the mango salsa and sprinkle cilantro to finish.   

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It was very special for me to work with talented sous chef Alejandro Rodriguez at both Victoria House and Mahogany Bay Village. From a very young age, “Alex” has truly worked his way up through the ranks of a hotel kitchen, able to work any position and perform all kitchen management tasks. He has a true concern and respect for his co-workers. Also, he has a fantastic photographic memory and a natural ability with numbers. Alex can always be counted on to uphold food quality standards and a positive energy in the kitchen. Plus, I haven’t seen ANYONE handle and cook local seafood more expertly in Belize!
— Mara Jernigan, Chef and Management Consultant, Canada

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Alex and his colleagues Adiel Garcia (left) and Julian Oberlacher (right) preparing lunch for 50, earlier this summer at Mahogany Bay Village.

Alex and his colleagues Adiel Garcia (left) and Julian Oberlacher (right) preparing lunch for 50, earlier this summer at Mahogany Bay Village.

Laura Balis