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Name:  Joe O’Donnell
Age: 23
Home: Originally from Scottsdale, Arizona, but now living in Jonesville on Roatan, Honduras.

We met Joe while anchored out in Bodden Bight near Jonesville.

Work:  Chef

What makes him interesting?:  At the ripe old age of 23, Joe finds himself as the gourmet chef at The Hole in the Wall bar and restaurant, a scruffy and roughhewn place that looks more like an afterthought stuck out over the water with its uneven flooring and weathered tables.  Every week night, from Monday through Thursday, he creates and executes epicurean masterpieces totally contradictory to the ambiance of Hole in the Wall.  The owner of the restaurant, an ex-pat named Bob who’s been there for twenty years, gives Joe full run of the kitchen and the profits from his efforts.

Important event in his life:  Joe studied culinary arts at Cordon Bleu in Scottsdale.  After completing the fifteen-month Bachelor’s degree program, he set out to ply his trade with restaurants in San Francisco, North Bay, Napa and Sousolito.  During this time, his parents moved to Roatan.  They owned a restaurant in San Francisco and commuted back and forth, but Roatan became home.  Joe visited periodically and one day met Bob.  They discussed the possibility of the partnership and when it was cemented, Joe left his work in the States and moved to Jonesville full-time.
What are the challenges?:  Joe’s biggest challenge proves also to be his greatest reward.  Many of the products he used for ingredients in the States are not available on Roatan.  It’s particularly difficult to find fresh vegetables which make their way onto the island sporadically and inconsistently.  He spends a lot more time shopping, sometimes visiting five or six stores before finding what he needs. 

But where some things are lacking, others are in abundance such as lobster, shrimp, grouper and snapper.  The waters are so fertile in Honduras that supplies are plentiful even when out of season.  Joe uses seafood as the mainstay to his stews, gumbo and pasta dishes.  He’s become very proficient at adapting his recipes to available stock as well as using what he has to create new delectable concoctions.

One expertise that seems to elude him is bread baking.  Ironically, the hot and humid conditions of the island don’t always create a good environment for yeast to rise properly.  This proves to be a constant frustration for Joe because he likes to complement his dishes with freshly prepared bread. 

How did he decide to do this?:  With Joe’s parents owning the restaurant in San Francisco, he was exposed to culinary arts at an early age.  His father encouraged him to pursue it as a career because it would allow him to be creative and he could do it anywhere.  After graduation, Joe worked with several different chefs.  Sometimes he questioned whether he had made the right decision, but the more he learned, the more fulfilled he became.  Now, with the support of Bob at Hole in the Wall, he’s the master of his own creativity.  That’s very rewarding for someone his age who has dared to take a somewhat different path with his life.

Philosophy of Life:  “Keep an open mind.  Don’t get stuck in your ways.”

"Hole in the Wall"


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Life is the Only Story You Need
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Welcome to Lifesstory.com, the e-zine where all the tales are true and our motto is “Life is the Only Story You Need.” On our pages you’ll find the real cruising adventures of the crew aboard the sailing vessel Up Jinks.  There are also all sorts of stories – life experiences, places, people, humor, photos, food and more. Most importantly, you can share your Life’s Story with us.  

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