Meet Chef Ryan Manning

In the realm of culinary excellence, there is a Reynolds alum who shines brightly: Chef Ryan Manning. Renowned for his innovative approach, impeccable technique, and unwavering passion, Manning has carved a distinct niche for himself in the culinary world.

Chef Ryan Manning at the stove in an industrial kitchen in white apron and tall white chef's hat, sprinkling ingredients into a potRyan Manning’s journey from Reynolds Community College alumnus to acclaimed chef-owner and consultant has been nothing short of extraordinary. He has impressed us with a career spanning prestigious restaurants, his own ventures, and a commitment to nurturing the next generation of chefs. He now begins a new leg of his journey as the Executive Performance Chef for the National Football League with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

Chef Manning's story is a testament to his dedication and innovation.

Manning’s formal culinary education began with Reynolds and laid a sturdy foundation for his future endeavors. Learning the basics needed for success, he honed his skills at the American Culinary Federation Apprenticeship Program in Colonial Williamsburg, where he not only mastered classic techniques but also nurtured his innate creativity. This blend of tradition and innovation became the hallmark of his cooking style.

Manning was selected by the James Beard Foundation to be one of 15 chefs to participate in its Chef Boot Camp. He also attended the MAD Academy, ('mad' is Danish for 'food,') which is an educational institution that equips students from the hospitality community with the knowledge, tools, and inspiration to effect positive change in their professional lives and in the world.

After graduating from Reynolds, Manning embarked on a culinary odyssey that would see him rise to prominence as the chef-owner of MX Taco Restaurant in Orlando, FL, and Cookies & Cream in Lake Mary, FL. His passion for the culinary arts was evident in these establishments, where every dish was a testament to his creativity and commitment to excellence. Additionally, as the mastermind behind the Manning Group Consulting Firm, he has overseen culinary operations for an array of concepts, tapas lounges, and nightclubs across the Mid-Atlantic, Florida, and Yucatán.

With an impressive repertoire, Manning's career boasts enriching experiences at prestigious establishments. He showcased his culinary finesse at illustrious venues like the Ritz-Carlton in Washington DC, Mexico, San Francisco, and Orlando, as well as Walt Disney World. Notably, Manning's culinary journey led him to serve at the U.S. House of Representatives, a testament to his skill and reputation in the culinary world. His early days were marked by his excellence as an American Culinary Federation Apprentice graduate at Colonial Williamsburg, a foundation that set the stage for his subsequent achievements.

Manning's culinary prowess has garnered recognition that speaks volumes about his talents. MX Taco earned the coveted title of "Best Taco" in Orlando for two consecutive years (2021 and 2022) by Orlando Magazine, a testament to his ability to reimagine traditional Mexican dishes with a modern twist. The restaurant also secured the Editor's Choice award in 2021 from the Orlando Sentinel. These accolades underline Manning's dedication to pushing culinary boundaries and delighting the palates of his patrons.

Earlier in the year, Chef Manning paid a visit to Reynolds in celebration of the 50th Anniversary. He demonstrated his culinary skills to students at The Kitchens. In the Q&A, he spoke of the challenges he had early on in his career, recounting fondly his doubts about butchering lobster. It was a task he overcame with determination and practice.

Beyond his culinary endeavors, Chef Manning's commitment to nurturing the future generation of chefs is both commendable and inspiring. Serving as the American Culinary Federation Young Chefs Club Advisor, he actively contributes to educating and encouraging aspiring chefs to reach their full potential. His dedication extends to policy and change advocacy, as evidenced by his participation in The James Beard Foundation's Chef Bootcamp for Policy and Change and his affiliation with MAD Academy.

In his most recent endeavor, Chef Manning has joined with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers as their Executive Performance Chef. His role there is to maximize player health and performance through the creation of nutritionally optimal meals and snacks for the players and coaches. His responsibilities revolve around overseeing the entirety of the culinary operations including the culinary performance staff and all facets of the dining room. As a multi-disciplinary team member, he'll work in collaboration with nutritionists and the performance team, to provide fresh, local, sustainable, and nutrient-dense meals tailored specifically to the needs of the players and coaches.

In Chef Manning, we find a remarkable blend of passion, innovation, and dedication. His journey from a Reynolds graduate to an Executive Performance Chef for the NFL showcases the heights that can be reached through unyielding commitment, drive, and the pursuit of excellence. Manning's impact on the culinary world, both as a chef and an educator, cements his place as a true rock star in the industry.

Learn more about the culinary arts, hospitality, and entrepreneurship program at The Kitchens at Reynolds.