Head to the Garage Bar tonight at 7 p.m. for a chance to hang out with Kyle Manning.
Who, exactly, is Kyle Manning, you ask? Well, he is not a chef, but he'd like to be. The West Geauga High School grad has had the dream of becoming one since childhood. Recently that dream lead him to a slot on the second season of Fox's MasterChef, a cooking show for amateur chefs to prove their skills to celebrity chef Gordon Ramsay. But in order to prove he's the best, he had to beat his toughest opponent: his mother.
“My mom also tried out for the show and made it, we were the only contestants that knew each other,” the 27-year-old reveals with a laugh. “We even roomed together while we lived in California, it was a friendly competition.”
Manning however has his mother to thank for not only getting to him into the competition — she's the one who forwarded him the email with instructions to audition — but also for getting him that far in cooking.
“I was just a kid who was always surrounded by cooking, whether it was watching my mother or watching cooking shows with her. It was a big part of my childhood. I also loved to eat.”
Manning said he began experimenting in the kitchen when he was around 10. He graduated from West Geauga in Chesterland where he says he spent most of the time in Home Ec classes trying to impress girls. Since graduating from Mercyhurst College in Pennsylvania with a degree in Hospitality Management, he's bounced around at different jobs before settling in at his current job with Airline Catering. But cooking was never far from his mind and he always hoped for a chance to break into the business. MasterChef could very well be his chance.
“The show is a chance for people who have no professional cooking experience to prove themselves and become a noteworthy chef,” said Manning. “No one seemed to have more experience than anyone so it was a pretty even playing field.”
After getting the initial email from his mom, Manning debated whether or not it was worth it to audition since the closest audition was in Chicago. But a last minute epiphany sent him to the Windy City and eventually a spot on the show.
While Manning can't reveal too much about the show, he did reveal his opinions about celebrity chef Gordon Ramsay. Known for his verbal abuse on the hit show Hell's Kitchen, Manning describes Ramsay as a “cool dude."
“He's known for being this hothead all the time, and he can be very intimidating when the cameras are rolling. But behind the scenes he's a really nice guy. He likes to joke around and he always offers his help on how your dishes can be better.”
In honor of Kyle's appearance on the show, The Garage Bar at 1859 West 25th St. will be throwing a watch party tonight at 7 p.m. Manning will be there hanging out and watching the premiere episode along with anyone who would like to join him. If you're lucky, you may even be able to squeeze some more information out of him than I was able to.
“I can't tell you whether or not I become the MasterChef, but I can say it was a fantastic experience and I tried to represent Cleveland to the best of my abilities.” — Max Hayden