In this candid conversation, we uncover the culinary treasures close to Ryan’s heart, from what inspired him to work with food in the first place (hint – Jamiroquai gets a mention), to his favourite places to dine and relax in Noosa.
Read on, as we talk about the travel that influenced his culinary style and what the name ‘Lanai’ means.
We’re thrilled to have Ryan taking over the VIP Lounge in the Festival Village for 2024. Guests can expect a mouth-watering menu with new selections arriving every hour, from a raw bar in collaboration with leading NZ & Australian seafood suppliers, to local delights sourced from the finest producers in our region. Get your tickets here.
What are you most excited about for the Noosa Eat & Drink 2024 Festival?
Just to see that it’s back! It’s a great event that brings together all the locals and visitors involved, getting it back on track is the most exciting thing for sure.
What are you listening to at the moment?
A Hawaiian Big Waves Surfer, he’s a musician called Landen McNamara.
What’s your favourite dish?
I always get asked this! I think my wives Fiji Chicken Curry is probably my favourite.
What are you reading?
I prefer audiobook, at the moment it’s one called 10 X is easier than 2 X by Dan Sullivan with Dr. Benjamin Hardy.
Music or Podcasts?
What’s your favourite place to dine in Noosa?
Stand out would be Sum Yung Guys, also Sails Wine Bar.
Everything! But if I had to pick, my cocktail choice would be a negroni and wine choice would be Polperro Talland Hill.
What’s been your involvement with the Noosa Eat & Drink Festival in the past?
Generally I’ve done all the back of house which includes the chef demonstration prep, most of the beach events canapes, and assisting the other guest chefs to fulfil those.
What inspired you to work with food?
I think the turning point was watching Jamie Oliver cook for Jamiroquai back in the mid 90’s, and Jamiroquai was like the god at the time, and I was like that’s me, I want to do that! Of course my family inspires me also.
Can you share a tip or trick you think every cook at home should know?
Not to overthink things, there’s better ways of doing things but there’s no real right or wrong way to cooking.
Can you recommend some hidden gems or favourite spots in Noosa for travellers.
Ohhhh we like to keep these a secret. Look it’s for everyone – the National Park. There are so little many spots for picnics, to set up camp, or go to the beach, the National Park is the draw card I’d say.
Are there any travel experiences that have had a notable influence on your culinary style?
When I did my time on the super yachts we travelled in the north and south pacific. I’d be in Fiji for 6 months, then Hawaii for 6 months, for 6 years. Lots of islands and small villages and lots of pacific culture, which is what we have based our business on.
Are there any local ingredients or produce from the Noosa area that you particularly love to work with in your dishes?
Yeah, two stand outs besides obviously the seafood industry here (which is really good), for us is Peter at Noosa Reds Tomatoes and also Aunty Terry that owns Sevgen, she’s got Galeru up at Cooroy with all the native fruits and herbs and spices.
Do you have any outdoor activities or places in Noosa that you enjoy in your free time?
I love the National Park and the Dog Beach. Noosa North Shore is amazing and then there’s the Hinterland as well, climbing the mountains, Tinbeerwah and Pomona.
How did the opportunity for Lanai Noosa come about?
Purely by luck I think! With all the events we were doing, we’d often drive past and saw that not much was happening at the site. It use to be such a great place that we would frequent when David Rayner had it, so we made a few enquiries and within a few weeks we ended up having the keys!
How long have you been open now and what does the name Lanai mean?
We have been open just over 4 months now. Originally we were going to call it ‘Lailai’, which is Fijian for small, (small plates is what we were thinking). Then we looked at the whole layout of the place, and it’s so well know for the outdoor area, the patio and veranda, and Lanai is what they call the porch/veranda in Hawaiian.
Are there any upcoming projects or collaborations that you’re excited about?
Yes, aside from obviously Noosa Eat & Drink Festival, we’ll be doing a series of takeovers in the new year with some restaurants down south, some guest chefs and things like that. We want to create more ‘one off’ events and keep everything interesting!