Ryan Manaut

Jo McGarry photo

Pantry Chef, Oahu Country Club

Where were you born and raised? Hawaii. I went to Saint Louis and Punahou, and then moved to Washington state for a while. When I came back to Hawaii, I decided to pursue a culinary career and graduated from Gros Bonet, the culinary and travel management school here in Honolulu.

Who inspired you to start cooking? Probably my mom. She loves to cook and she always encouraged me. From fifth grade on I knew I wanted to be a chef.

Are you related to Frank Manaut, the former CEO of Bank of Hawaii?

Yes, he was my grandfather and a great aficionado of fine dining.

You’ve just been named America’s Top Young Chef by the Chaine des Rotisseurs. That’s quite an accomplishment. Thank you. Yes, it was something of a surprise to me. The judges said I was the most relaxed winner they’d ever seen.

So how do you explain that? I was nervous in Honolulu, but after I won that regional, I didn’t think I had a chance of winning in New Orleans, so I was relaxed and having a great time.

What made you join the Chaine des Rotisseurs in the first place? A lot of members at the Oahu Country Club also are Chaine des Rotisseurs members, so I had a lot of encouragement. And I’ve always liked to compete. It’s challenging to be around such a high level of competition.

I bet there were some extremely happy Oahu Country Club members this past week. (Laughs) Yes. A lot. I’ve been having to go into the dining room to talk to a lot more of our members recently. It’s really a great honor.

Have you had to re-create the winning menu? Actually, yes. We’re running the national menu for the next three weekends, so people can come and enjoy it.

I know you get an “Iron Chef style” mystery basket in the final, what was in yours? Pineapple, scallops, whole duck, chayote, speckled trout and artichoke.

And you made …? Seafood chawan mushi, seared scallop and chayote canap√©, five-spice roasted duck with hearts of artichoke, glazed carrots and potato puree and dessert.

Are you a plate lunch kind of guy or fine dining fan? Oh, fine dining for sure. I like to go and enjoy our best restaurants whenever I can.

Favorite in Honolulu? Le Bistro. It’s the best. Everything is right about the restaurant and it’s always consistent. I think everyone loves Le Bistro!

What’s always in your fridge? Oh, mostly I shop at Foodland Farms, so fresh produce and anything they have that’s interesting and a little different.

What’s the most bizarre thing you’ve ever eaten? Breaded goat brain in Kenya last year. It was interesting.