A funny thing happened to Jean-Pierre Maharibatcha on his way to becoming an architect. He became a chef. Actually, his mother had hoped he would become a tailor. But the only styling Maharibatcha does these days is unique food presentations.

That pleases diners at Oahu Country Club, where Maharibatcha, 55, is executive chef. They say this talented culinary master is exactly where he belongs – in the kitchen or dining room making people happy.

Maharibatcha joined Oahu County Club last November after a five-year stint as executive chef at John Dominis restaurant in Kakaako. Prior to that, he was at Halekulani’s Orchids restaurant and at five-star Ritz-Carlton hotel restaurants all over the United States.

The Eurasian chef was born in Vietnam, raised in France and adopted by his Indian stepfather. He is multilingual, speaking Spanish, Vietnamese, Italian, French and English. However, his English is heavily accented with French, and when he’s excited and speaks rapidly, it’s almost another language.

But in any language, Maharibatcha’s cuisine is exquisite, ranging from world-class gourmet fare to local grinds. He does it all while managing a kitchen staff of 25 to satisfy the appetites of hungry golfers and club guests.

“I’m a working chef,” says Maharibatcha, who spends more time on the cooking line than in the office. “I want to make sure the food is perfect.”

Oahu members applaud his quest for perfection and have been receptive to menu changes made so far. The only recipe Maharibatcha vows never to touch is the club’s legendary sweet, minty OCC Iced Tea.

“That’s sacred,” he says.

GREATEST INSPIRATION.

Georges Auguste Escoffier, 19th century French chef, restaurateur and culinary writer who popularized and updated traditional French cooking methods. Along with recipes he recorded and invented, Escoffier elevated cooking to a respected profession by introducing organized discipline to his kitchens.