Follow me on Instagram at DaIslaNani
Who is Phat Manny?
I’m what you would call a self-taught chef, but at heart, I’m basically a dude who gets a kick out of cooking for those I love and sharing my stories with those who are bored enough to listen. I’ve gotten better at cooking over the years and every so often I will cater a party, brew some beer, and for sure I have hosted plenty of massive BBQ’s. I don’t run a food truck , however if you know anybody that wants to donate one, I’ll take it!
I live near Seattle in the beautiful Pacific Northwest where the sun shines 3 months out of the year and we soak up every minute of Mother Nature’s glorious rays. That is because we spend the next 9 months getting soaked by her glorious rain.
I’m the husband to my best half who is tirelessly supportive, and the beamingly proud father of twins who are smart, good looking, and athletic, just like their amazing mommy! My main passions in life include my inspirational family, cooking and entertaining, and not least of all, God’s game, Soccer! You can find me most weekends in gyms at AAU basketball games cheering on my daughter and coach-mommy, on the soccer pitch supporting my son’s premier league soccer team, or at home throwing down massive quantities of food for all my family and friends. BBQ, beers, backyard Kanikapila and late night karaoke sessions pour out into our neighborhood when we decide to get after it.
How did I get into cooking?
I can’t point to a single defining moment it all just kind of came together. I think my love of cooking was founded at a young age, when I was about 9. Back then, my grandpa would always have us over to his house on the weekends and he would always be in the kitchen making up food he knew we would love. A Purple Heart Army vet, he would constantly be whipping up something good for us to eat. He made his own wines, raised his own gardens, and we spent countless days running around his house and gathered around his table. He was the most creative person I knew in that kitchen and I feel his spirit every time I start to brainstorm my next plate.
My father was the king of the grill around our house. Born and raised in Kansas City, Kansas, BBQ flowed through his veins. I’ve had more Rosedale BBQ sauce than I can remember. Summers at my childhood home in Tacoma were the place to be and his BBQ’s became stories of legend. I still hear from old friends about how my dad made the 4th of July special for anyone who came over. Nobody left hungry or sober. I carry his love of family gatherings every time I fire up that grill.
When I had my twins, I discovered that if you cook, and cook well enough, people will leave you alone! I was able to avoid that one extra diaper change just by staring at my Yoder smoker and saying “I’d love to help, but somebody has to tend this fire.” I have to tell you, 65% of the time, it worked 100%! Over time I just kind of fell in love with food and the different dishes I can learn to create. I threw myself into learning all I could and the more I traveled the more I wanted to cook what I had just eaten.
Why write a blog?
I started out throwing backyard BBQ’s for our friends and family and shortly after that, people started asking me for my recipes and wondered how I made certain dishes. Eventually these parties got so big I had to start emailing people my recipes. Plus I got tired of writing on paper. My handwriting has been described as looking like chicken scratch from a broke-leg chicken. Each email I sent contained the recipe and a variety of smart-assed jokes. All of this led me to the idea of taking the spirit of those late night BBQ’s and cookouts and sharing it with all of you.
I had a couple sites up before finally arriving at this point. As I was at a crossroads in my life, I was talking with my wife about how I would like to do something with a bit more soul. Something that truly captured what it was I had been trying to communicate. After speaking with her, she suggested that we start fresh with a new look, a new social media platform and really take it to the next level.
I have learned that listening to my wife has led me to some of the greatest moments of growth I could imagine. She is more than a wife. She is a teacher, a partner, and my muse. The saying goes that behind every great man is a woman but I feel that behind this average man is an even greater woman who has stood by me and provided more than words can describe.
Following the sage advice of my wise and beautiful wife, we created this site, Islanani. Now, you may not get to try the coconut brown ales that I homebrew, or hear me badly play guitar and sing “La Bamba,” but if you stick around and read this blog, you’ll get a sense of how we get down.
What is Islanani?
So you ask me, “Hey Phat Manny, what is Islanani?” In short, Isla is Spanish for “island” and Nani is basically Hawaiian for “beauty” or “beautiful.” You combine the two and you get “Beautiful Island.” To me, the name captures what I feel is the expression of myself and my influences. In the end, we are all looking for that one place where we can gather with our friends and family to pass the time away. That place we can all meet up and sing a song, fill up a plate, and laugh until our stomach’s hurt. To me, Islanani captures that spirit.
See, I’ve traveled all over and if you asked me to name my cultural and culinary influences I would say they run deep through the Midwest down to Latin America, all across the Pacific Islands over to South East Asia. Basically, I’m confused. But somehow through this confusion I have found clarity and purpose. With my family beside me, I have found my beautiful island and Islanani is my way to share it with the world. I am blessed to be where I am today and after years of searching, I have found my voice and choose to express it in my cooking and my writing. My family inspires me and my soul guides me in this culinary journey. So, if you have time on your hands and nothing better to do, come take a peek at what we have created for you!
Oh man, that rhymed, I didn’t mean it….anybody want a peanut?