Willis Loughhead got his start cooking in cool, trendy restaurants in the Northeast and Florida — I first interviewed him around the turn of the century when he was chef at Tantra, an aphrodisiac-themed restaurants in South Miami Beach, Fla. — but after years of living the rather debauched life that often came with working in the back of the house of independent operations, he started to look inward and focus on his own mental health and those around him.
He soon ended up in the more stable environment of hotels, working for the Ritz-Carlton group as well as the Plaza Hotel in New York City, although he also ran the kitchen for the bar room at The Modern, the fine-dining restaurant at the Museum of Modern Art in New York.
Loughhead was all set to leave the kitchen and go into hotel management when the pandemic hit, devastating the New York hotel scene and ending any short-term prospects for a career in that field.
So Loughhead instead went out to the suburbs and is now at Crestmont Country Club in West Orange, N.J., where he is chef as well as assistant general manager, running the kitchen as well as managing the budget for maintenance of the golf course greens.
Social distancing is a lot easier in the countryside, and it turns out that the food is pretty great, too.
In this podcast Loughhead discusses his career path, his changing priorities and the memories he has created along the way.
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