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John Manglelos: The man & chef behind the moustache

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John Manglelos: The man & chef behind the moustache

Ripon Chef John Mangelos and Sous Chef Keith Peters prepare a gourmet boxed lunch of vegetable skewers and rice.

Photo contributed/


POSTED March 23, 2012 7:45 p.m.

NAME: John Mangelos

JOB: Co-owner of The Barnwood Restaurant and Catering and Barnwood Arms as well as real property in downtown Ripon

HIGH SCHOOL: Ripon High School

WHAT DID YOU LEARN FROM YOUR PARENTS: “My dad always said, ‘Buy the best you can afford – it will serve you well.’ My mom said, ‘Keep track of your money because it won’t keep track of itself.’”

WHAT IS YOUR PASSION: “Food has always been my passion. I love to eat and I love to cook. When I graduated college and started to prepare myself for law school I knew that it wasn’t something that I wanted to pursue as a lifelong career. Cooking, however, was something I could see myself doing.”

GREATEST THING TO EVER HAPPEN TO YOU: “Getting the opportunity to cater the Olympic Games. It was special because it went beyond just being a chef – there was this sense of joy among the athletes. Even those that had just competed against each other that day had such a positive outlook and that was something that you don’t ever expect to see. When you’re a part of something like that you feel that you’ve accomplished a great deal.”

PET PEEVE: “People that want everything for nothing – a sense of entitlement among people who don’t truly appreciate what they have.”

LAST NICE THING A STRANGER DID: “On vacation in Crete, Greece, we were looking for our ancestors in this village and we were bewildered because we couldn’t find any of them. This man approached us and asked what we were doing there and asked our last name – he told us that the spelling didn’t translate and that our relatives were at a house around the corner. He took us to them.”

FAVORITE DINING HAUNT (RESTAURANT) & MENU ITEM: “There’s a Vietnamese restaurant in San Francisco – Le Colonial – that serves this amazing chicken dish that changes with the season. Then there’s OneSpeed Pizza in Sacramento. I love stopping in there whenever I’m in town.”

BEST GIFT EVER RECEIVED: “Life.”

IDEA OF A GREAT DAY: “Eating out for breakfast, lunch and dinner – each meal at a different restaurant. And all of them with good friends.”

CURRENT BOOK READING: China Inc. by Ted C. Fishman

THE UNIQUE MUSTACHE HAS BEEN MENTIONED IN THE WASHINGTON POST. WHAT DOES IT REPRESENT AND HOW MUCH UPKEEP IS INVOLVED: “I think that after the Washington Post story and the Pawn Stars episode people have come to expect the mustache. But it really relates back to my Greek heritage. In Crete a large mustache was a sign of respect to the individuals that fought in the Turkish Invasions, and to this day when I visit, a lot of the old-timers will see it and there’s a sense of mutual respect. Getting it ready, however, can be quite laborsome. First you have to wash it and then it has to dry completely before you can put anything in it. It takes about 10 minutes.”

WHAT HAS HELPED THE BARNWOOD STAY AFLOAT DURING THE RECESSION WHEN OTHER RESTAURANTS ARE FOLDING: “We always use the best products available – we go organic whenever we can, use USDA Choice Black Angus beef and Foster Farms Chicken and buy locally. We use local cheeses and during the summer months upwards of 85 percent of our produce comes from local growers. I think that people have recognized that.”

HOW DO YOU COMPETE WITH CHAIN RESTAURANTS: “There are a lot of places that will sell you a dinner for $10, but you can’t go to a grocery store and buy a dinner for $10, so you have to question whether or not what they’re using is good for you. Quality products go a long way. With the customers we provide our catering services to, I think that they realize that.”

FAVORITE MOVIE: “Taps. I’m an advocated of discipline and organization and it definitely exemplified that. There’s just something about that military attitude.”

FAVORITE ACTOR (ACTRESS) AND WHY: “Sophia Loren. She has timeless beauty and her personal life is not a stage. And she’s been in some phenomenal movies.”

WHAT DO YOU ENJOY MOST ABOUT WHAT YOU DO: “Forging that 1-to-1 relationship with your customers and finding out things that you wouldn’t get the chance to know otherwise. It’s a job that doesn’t ever get boring. Tastes change and your customer base changes and we’re somewhat like a phoenix – we keep rising.”

BEST PIECE OF ADVICE EVER GIVEN TO YOU: “Treat everybody like they’re one day going to be your boss.”

WHAT’S THE MOST STRESSFUL THING ABOUT BEING YOUR OWN BOSS: “Paying the bills.”

WHAT PROMPTED YOU TO GIVE UP ON PURSUING A CAREER IN LAW: “When I started some law school orientation classes, they told us that we were going to have to be distant from our friends and wary of people who wanted to use you as a resource. I believe we should give freely because each person you touch changes you in a positive way, and we need to have that constant contact. Being distant and unengaged didn’t strike a positive chord in me.”

FAVORITE GETAWAY: “Greece. I love the relaxed lifestyle and the people and the food.”

HARDEST THING YOU EVER HAD TO DO: “Fire a friend.”

WHO DO YOU ADMIRE: “Harvey Douma – the former Ripon Police Chief. He’s a man of his word, and he gives freely of himself in his 90s. And he seldom has anything bad to say about anybody.”

IF YOU WERE SOMEONE ELSE AND YOU HAD TO DESCRIBE WHAT KIND OF PERSON JOHN WAS, WHAT WOULD YOU SAY: “Driven – sometimes to the point of being overbearing.”

WHERE WOULD YOU LIKE TO BE 10 YEARS FROM NOW: “Retired – working on historical things and putting together another book about Ripon.”

WHAT MAKES YOU PROUD TO BE AN AMERICAN: “When I travel and see what other people strive for and don’t have and come home and see what we have because our ancestors fought hard for those freedoms – I appreciate that. I worry about our present society’s lack of realization of what we do have though.”

WHAT IS YOUR GOAL WHEN YOU WAKE UP IN THE MORNING: “To make a difference in one person’s like that I meet. It can be as simple as a compliment on what they’re wearing. It doesn’t always have be a grand thing – sometimes just a simple thing will suffice.”

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