Ron Maynard’s sweet success
PASTRY IS HIS PASSION and his passion is all about pastry.
Meet executive sous chef at Sea Breeze Hotel, 34-year-old Ron Maynard. Ron took time out his three-days-a week training for the Barbados culinary team that is participating in the Taste Of The Caribbean in Miami in June to sit down with EASY magazine.
Ron has an associate degree in pastry making from the Hospitality Institute at PomMarine.
This is his second time with the team and his third time trying out.
“I made the team in 2012 as a back up for the pastry chef. This year I am still doing pastry.”
Ron said he picked pastry as it is a more challenging aspect of cooking.
“Everything you do in pastry has to be precise and exact. You can’t make any mistakes in pastry. Too much or too little flour or too much or too little essence means starting over a confectionery.”
Ron, a past student of Ellerslie Secondary, was put into food and nutrition because “I gave too much trouble in metalwork class,” he said, chuckling at the memory.
But what that did was just fuel the love he had for food.
“That first term I placed second in that class. The second term I placed first so I said “This was something I could work with. My mum used to cook for weddings so I watched her, and my dad taught me a couple of tricks of the trade. He was good at making cornbread and stuff.”
Ron said the cooking “continued me . . . I fell deep in love with all the different things I could do with different ingredients. I loved to experiment, which I still do.”
Ron’s first job out of PomMarine was at Sandy Bay Hotel as a pastry chef for three years. He also did stints at the Beach House restaurant and Treasure Beach. From there he went to Sea Breeze, where he has been for the past eight years.
“I have had my mishaps through the years. Cut my fingers, burnt a couple of stuff, but the good thing about pastry is that you can turn a mishap into something creative and tasty. One time I burnt a caramel and I added in some orange juice and it turned out to be a nice tamarind flavour, so that went well after all,” he said.
As a pastry chef Ron’s favourite item to work with is chocolate.
“I love to work with local ingredients – ginger, cinnamon, nutmeg. I like the Caribbean flavours. But when I am doing a menu one thing it has to have in is chocolate. It is awesome,” he said, adding giggles when asked why.
“I like to spice it up and be creative, so not vanilla as that is boring,” he said sternly.
As executive sous chef Ron says, he couldn’t do it without the team he has at Sea Breeze.
“I let them have a huge input. I need all the help I can get. When they do good I look good. I have some excellent members of staff.”
He is solely in charge of the three restaurants at the hotel. There is a group executive chef, Michael Harrison, that Ron answers to.
Under Ron there are 40 staff members and he holds meetings and, does budgets, payroll, the menus, staff training and more.
Ron needs the extra help as when his shift at Sea Breeze ends, he starts another one. Plus, he has to train.
Ron is the chief cook and bottle-washer of his home-based pastry business, Hilltop Cakes & Pastries, for the past 11 years.
“When I leave Sea Breeze I go home and start doing my orders. I do wedding cakes, birthdays, desserts for functions and for events.
“I work between the hours of 11 p.m. and 6:30 a.m. Sleep is a myth”, he said to my asking when he rests his head.
“My shift starts at 8 a.m. at Sea Breeze and depending on what is going on I can leave as late as 9:30, 10 p.m.”
He says what he has is a passion for his craft.
“I go home every night to my kitchen and start baking. It is a passion. When you have that passion it is easy. It is a habit also; since I have been doing it for a while it has become second nature.”
Ron says in his eight years at Sea Breeze he has never taken a sick day.
He came to Sea Breeze as a pastry chef. When the then executive chef left, Ron acted for a couple of years. Management was so impressed that he was promoted to executive sous chef. Ron unashamedly admitted that he is also a cook.
“People tell me I am a great cuisine cook. Some even say I am better at cooking than pastry,” he said, giving me another of his booming laughs.
He said he can’t decide which, in his estimation, he is better at.
But for now Ron will continue to indulge people’s sweet tooth with his classic and non-traditional pastries such as the dish he used to compete with to make the culinary team: Chocolate, nut and coconut bar, curry plantain and white chocolate mousse, green split pea and tea time biscuit crisp, ginger infused honey comb, orange flavoured cream, salted mango fluid gel and chocolate pyramid.
Each chef had two and a half hours to make their signature dish. Ron finished with 30 seconds to spare.
With five weeks to go, the team is fine-tuning, seeing what works with what and trying to get everything balanced.
“When I return from Miami I want to come back with Pastry Chef Of The Year. You have to win gold and I am going for gold.”