Pastry Chef John Degnan built his career in the hospitality industry on luxury brands like Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts, Ritz–Carlton Hotels & Resorts, St. Regis Hotels and Resorts, and Omni Hotels. Degnan’s extensive culinary education prepared him well for a career in pastry—he carries both an Associates Degree from the Hotel and Restaurant Technology Department at New York City Technical College, and his studies at the International School of Confectionary Arts in Gaithersburg, Maryland.
Degnan began his pastry career as a baker at Patisserie Lanciani in Manhattan’s West Village in 1988. It wasn’t long before the ambitious chef moved up the ladder, to serve as Assistant Pastry Chef at Manhattan’s iconic Rainbow Room. His first pastry chef position was at the Pierre Hotel’s Café Pierre, but he took on even more than that when he signed on as pastry chef for Restaurant Associates Rockefeller Center locations—The Sea Grill, American Festival Café and Savories. It was at The Sea Grill that he would meet his mentor Executive Chef Ed Brown.
His first opening position came soon afterward, when he was offered the position of pastry chef for the new Omni Berkshire Palace Hotel. Eventually the bright lights of New York became a little glaring, though, so Degnan moved to Lanai’i in Hawaii, where he accepted as executive pastry chef at Castle & Cooke, The Lodge at Koele, and The Manele Bay Hotel. Degnan soon felt the urge to transition to the front of the house though, so in 1999, he was named Banquet Manager of The Manele Bay Hotel and was promoted to acting Director of Food and Beverage a year later. He oversaw four restaurants and banquet operations as part of his role there. After four years in Hawaii, Degnan set out for Laguna Niguel, California where he played a role in the opening team as Director of Restaurants overseeing four restaurant outlets and room service at The St. Regis Resort, Monarch Beach.
He could never really stay away from Hawaii, and spent 2004 to 2006 there, serving as Director of Food & Beverage for the sprawling complex that was Mauna Lani Bay Hotel and Bungalows—no small feat, as it involved overseeing five restaurants and banquets. He moved to AAA Five-Diamond Hualalai Resort and Spa as a Director of Food and Beverage.
Degnan’s wife, Donna, inspired a move to Houston, Texas, to be closer to her family on the East Coast. He was the director of an opening team once more, and even participated in the launch of Houston hotel, Hotel Icon’s newest venture, VOICE restaurant. Degnan Solutions, LLC was created in 2008, incorporating Degnan’s over two decades of luxury hospitality management and culinary experience.