Patrick Vanas is one of the lucky ones who gets to make a career out of his hobby and passion. After culinary school, cooking at various companies and country clubs — even a stint at JR.’s — he’s run his own eponymous catering company (patrickvanasevents.com) for about 10 years.
“You get to see the reactions right then and there,” he says. “It’s instant gratification and it’s just what I’ve always done. I started in junior high and was like, ‘OK, I really love this.’ I was winning medals and competitions and thinking, ‘Wow, this is really great.’ People are happy when they eat and you have to eat, so it just works.”
The 40-year-old Rosebush, Mich., native, lived in Charleston, S.C. for about five years before coming to Washington nearly 16 years ago.
Despite the rocky economy, Vanas says business is good. He purposefully keeps it modest so he can do all the work himself. Most jobs come by word of mouth. He’s planning to unveil a new component to his business next month at an event at Madame Tussauds.
Vanas has been in Shaw for a while but just moved into a new condo a couple weeks ago. He’s single and enjoys reading, movies, wine, cooking, travel and golf in his free time.
How long have you been out and who was the hardest person to tell?
Sixteen years. It was hard to tell my parents. I grew up on a dairy farm in rural America where it was just not really accepted, and telling them was scary and stressful.
Who’s your LGBT hero?
I would have to say Greg Louganis because of what he has gone through and I can kind of relate. Plus he is sexy hot!
What’s Washington’s best nightspot, past or present?
As someone in the hospitality business for 20 plus years I have been to many cool places, but as an all around fun place with service and no attitude I would have to say — my place when I throw a party. There are many places that I enjoy — Black Fox Lounge, La Tomate, JR.’s, Circa, Badlands/Apex, Nation and Cobalt but it’s really about being with your good friends and enjoying people that makes a place fun.
Describe your dream wedding.
I always thought the National Zoo’s Outside Bird Flight Cage was really beautiful (early fall leaves are just barely changing) with as many people it will hold. Then we all move to a venue that has outdoor space for dancing and drinking and great food made by my chef friends. Or I would have it at a faraway place (tropical/snow?) for those that want/care to join.
What non-LGBT issue are you most passionate about?
What historical outcome would you change?
It’s hard to choose, there are so many that were wrong to happen, but I guess they were needed for human evaluation and growth.
What’s been the most memorable pop culture moment of your lifetime?
My first concert. I was the chef/manager at JR.’s and another manager and I got a limo and our dates and went to see Cher at Nissan Pavilion. I loaded the car with all kinds of food and we stopped and loaded the car with alcohol. The owner and a few others got a limo also and off we went. What an awesome night, I can remember jumping up and down like I was a teenager.
On what do you insist?
Respect, kindness and forgiveness
What was your last Facebook post or Tweet?
Going to dinner at Chef Todd Gray’s new restaurant “Watershed” with best friends Jonathan and Keith. Or maybe a birthday posting to a friend. Maybe something about my new condo. I do not post often because I do not want everyone to know all my business. Some people post something every few minutes telling everyone all.
If your life were a book, what would the title be?
“Life of a Chef and I’m Not Done Yet”
If science discovered a way to change sexual orientation, what would you do?
What do you believe in beyond the physical world?
Vampires, aliens and some other higher power- whatever you care to call him/her.
What’s your advice for LGBT movement leaders?
It is great that we are moving forward on so many causes and fronts, but too often these organizations/leaders forget about many people, not everyone can afford the pricey events tickets. More events should be planned around the entire LGBT community and be a part of the community. If we are going to be strong as a group make it more financially accessible. Power is in numbers.
What would you walk across hot coals for?
Good food, wine, family, friends, love, sex and shoes. (No order and yeah, my feet are burning!)
What LGBT stereotype annoys you most?
None really. I am a very laid back guy when it comes to life and social things, I was not comfortable earlier in life with myself but 15-plus years ago I decided that I would not let anyone walk all over me nor worry about what others thought of me.
What’s your favorite LGBT movie?
I have three: “The Birdcage,” “Short Bus” and “Big Eden.”
What’s the most overrated social custom?
I think the question should be what is the most underrated. The customs we have in this country for the most part have been adapted from other cultures and we need to embrace and use them more strictly.
What trophy or prize do you most covet?
I have many cool trophies and awards, but a prize? My hands are my prize they give me the touch and molding capabilities to cook, which allows me to make people smile, when they take that first bite.
What do you wish you’d known at 18?
Life moves faster than you think.
My first partner/BF decided to move here after taking a vacation and fell in love with the area. My friends have changed and grown as I have, but Washington is still beautiful and has so much to offer. People including myself, get caught up in the day to day and forget what is around them and the diversity on all levels that this city has to show and teach us.