My Personal Cooking Lesson at Elvi’s Kitchen: Secret Recipes, Prince Harry and Jennie’s Trip to NYC

It was something that we’d be planning to do for a while but last week, the invite came!  I was most cordially invited (I added that part) to the kitchen – the inner sanctum – of one of San Pedro’s oldest and most favorite restaurants, Elvi’s Kitchen, for my own personal lesson in cooking.  How cool is that?


Elvi’s Kitchen was started by San Pedrana Elvia Staines almost 40 years ago on the island as a tiny “hole in the wall” called Elvi’s Burger Isle.  She built two palapas under a large flamboyant tree.  For the full history, check their website.

Many years later, the tree (now deceased…RIP buddy) is still in the middle of the MUCH LARGER establishment.


A very cool place with a sand floor, lots of local art and other Belizean flair.


Today, Miss Elvi is taking a very well deserved (semi) retirement and her daughter Jennie, who learned all she knows by watching her mother, heads the kitchen.


WIthout formal training, Jennie has taken the food to the next level, even in the six years that I’ve been eating there…adding a certain flair to the local favorites.

She was even chosen to cook for PRINCE HARRY when he visited Belize.  The only chef from San Pedro.  And, by chance, I was right there to take pictures.  (For that post, scroll down to the bottom.)


Ms. Elvi looking gorgeous in her Mestizo dress.IMG_4121-2

And almost as cool (nothing beats Prince Harry in my book), she is headed to Manhattan NEW YORK CITY! in a few weeks to represent Belize and cook for a huge group of bloggers & international food writers for very well known Saveur Magazine.  Oh la la.  AWESOME.  Go Jennie!

But let’s get to my cooking lesson.


I watch hours upon hours of food being prepared on the television but when it comes to putting it into practice?  I’m a total novice.   So my friend LouAnn and I went back into the kitchen and Jennie started with a Mexican flavored chicken soup.  Something, she said, that would be perfect for Sunday morning goma.  (Goma = Kriol for hangover).  Sounds good to me.

The recipe is at the end of this post.

But here are the pictures of me & LouAnn watching Jennie cook.  We helped by tasting, asking one million questions and generally just getting in the way.  SO MUCH FUN.

LouAnn taking copious notes.


Jennie is not shy with her favorite rum, One Barrel.  This stuff gives great flavor to the fruit sauce.


Jackson, who helped us continually along the way.


My view from inside the kitchen.


Jennie doing ALL of the work.


LouAnn tasting the chaya and cheese filling that will later be stuffed in chicken breasts.  Mmmmm….very similar to Spinach Artichoke Dip.


And then would be oozing out…MAN THESE ARE GOOD.

IMG_3863From the fish tacos to the famous fried chicken (it takes 20 minutes to make it from scratch…so have a watermelon mojito while you wait) to the best Key Lime Pie on the island, this food is just good.  Really good.

Here are some tacos while still getting prepared.


And here is the food ready for us to eat.  The soup…


Yum.  And then my selection, my favorite, the Chaya and Cheese Stuffed Chicken with Caribbean Fruit Sauce.  Let’s pretend that I plated it.  Double yum.


And then the best dessert in San Pedro…the Frozen Key Lime Pie with Gingersnap Crust.  Tart…with whipped cream.  Love…


Now that you are all hungry a few more quick things and then the recipe…

Elvi’s does a VERY popular Mayan Buffet on Friday nights with an overwhelming offering of local favorites, desserts and often live music.

Here is a picture from Thanksgiving 2007 of my family enjoying that very buffet.  Miss you dad!



Mexican “Quick and Easy Goma Curing” Chicken Soup (Serves 2)

  • 4 cups of homemade chicken stock (Jennie says a good boxed kind works fine)
  • 1/2 Small Onion Finely and Very Neatly chopped
  • 3 Slice of Tomato finely chopped
  • 1 canned Chipotle pepper, rinsed
  • Salt and Pepper
  • Chicken breast cubed and seasoned with salt and pepper
  • 1/4 cup mozzarella cheese
  • Fried tortilla strips or just some coarsely broken tortilla chips
  • 1/2 avocado cubed
  • A HUGE pinch of fresh cilantro

Simmer chicken broth with onion and tomato for a few minutes until onion is tender.   Taste and add pepper and salt if needed.   Slice chipotle and add to soup.  Add the cubed chicken breast and cook until just ready (only about 2 minutes depending on size of the cubes).

Get ready to plate.  Pile tortilla strips in bowl and sprinkle with the cheese and avocado.  Spoon the soup over and sprinkle with lots of cilantro.

I forget if there was lime in it!  Eat and enjoy!  Would be fantastic for a cold.  The chile spices it but without too much heat.

As for the Chaya and Chicken recipe?  It’s just too good to share.  Go to Elvi’s and try immediately!

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