Raised in Matagalpa, a small town in Nicaragua, Chef Adan Reyes Jarquin has grown up around cooking. His family owned a restaurant called “Sopas Doña Isabel,” named after his mother. They served soups (hence the title), beer, fried plantain and delicious local cheese.
"There was a cheese factory outside of town where my mother bought the cheese edges for grilling," Adan remembers. "My brother and I used togo every two days on bicycles to collect the cheese edges that were removed from the big blocks of cheese." They also collected the whey, from which they made "requeson," which many people know as ricotta.
During the summer months, the family moved business down to the riverside, offering cold drinks and grilled meats over boiled cassava and garlic, served up on traditional plantain leaves. Hungry visitors mowed through it, relaxing and splashing in the river (ignoring the local tradition that they might become mermaids).
His father moved to Belize in 2001, followed four years later by Chef Adan with his mother and sister. The culture shock was significant, but it exposed Adan to new foods, new culture and a new national language, laying the foundation for his later career in Belize.
He soon started his first restaurant job at "El Centro," attending night classes to finish high school. Upon graduation, he moved toGuatemala and enrolled in "Costa Sur High Cuisine School" for two years, then returned to Belize to work at kitchens in Belize City, Placencia and Orange Walk.
His introduction to the Viva Belize team, and eventually to Sleeping Giant's Grove House, was a 3-month project exploring Belizean Gastronomy.
The idea was one of rescuing ancestral recipes of our peoples and presenting this fusion of flavors in contemporary foodChef Adan Reyes
“The idea was one of rescuing ancestral recipes of our peoples and presenting this fusion of flavors in contemporary food,” Adan says. “As the ideas continued to flow, I was eager to demonstrate that Belizean Gastronomy can become an ‘art of eating.‘”
Which is exactly what he did. When he was offered a job leading the project, it was a dream come true. Today, the results shine clearly through The Grove House’s menu. Local ingredients such as corn, pork and beef, cassava, tangerines, tomatoes and honey play starring roles, with dishes suchas “Gibnut Stew,” “Tangerine Duck,” “Pollo Asada” and “Stewed Oxtail” taking center stage.
Chef Adan has never been shy when it comes to pushing the limits of culinary creativity, either. His family’s restaurant specialized in soups, such as crab and cilantro, beef soup with cow’s udder, bull testicles, cow brains, or plain beef soup with cabbage and vegetables. Using the whole animal is not only thrifty but delicious, and Adan strives to avoid both waste and caution in his cooking. The sky’s the limit, and Sleeping Giant guests are the benefactors of that attitude.
Whether you’re here for a filling breakfast or want to take the edge of that sweet tooth with Belizean stewed pumpkin, soursop ice cream or Mayan chocolate cake, we can promise one thing: You won’t get bored.
Don’t believe us? Come on down and speak with Chef Adan himself. We’re delighted to have you, so don’t wait to experience our lodge’s grand gourmet offerings for yourself.