Interview with Willis Loughhead, Part Two

Categories: Chef Interviews
8_opt.jpg
Photo by Peter Taylor
Willis wills it.
Today, Willis Loughhead talks about charcuterie, future plans, and a hippie trip "without the pot" that served as a spiritual sabbatical.

I read you've been involved in making charcuterie.

I have done all of the charcuterie for the past two restaurants with my sous chef Brian. We've done ham legs on salt for months, venison bresaola, beef bresaola, lamb pancetta, pork pancetta, and many terrines and sausages... It has been tremendous fun and a great learning experience for my cooks. The recipe that I have now for merguez is wonderful, and a few of the other items I will continue producing for my next project.

Your next project being...

My next project is based on some of the time I have spent on sabbatical... My cooking has grown more simple. All I can say at this moment is that one of my investors is a friend that I met more than ten years ago when I was cooking in Miami... You never know who you are cooking for or serving -- as a cook or server, the most important experience is the one in front of you.

Sabbatical?

After the Modern, I realized that I needed to take a sabbatical and travel on my own with no concerns. I was 35, single, and had recently lost my closest relative, Genevieve, my grandmother.

I traveled from New York to Singapore and then, with no plan, I continued by foot, rail, boat, bus, and friendly scooter through Malaysia, Thailand, Cambodia, North Africa, and Turkey for six months. I was one man with one bag on my shoulder... basically a hippie trip, but without the pot. On one occasion, I stood on the shore of Lang Tengah between Malaysia and Thailand, one of 14 people on the island. It was a year after the tsunami, but I stood there a week before a typhoon was projected to hit and all had left (I was headed out the next morning). I saw a rainbow and walked into the water and said goodbye to my grandmother.


Which food trends are played out?


I am tired of small composed plates -- but not small plates with simple
flavors. I will never get tired of small concepts like bowls of ramen
or japanese skewers.  


What Miami food and what restaurant do you miss most?

I
miss the service and fun of Clarke's, the wine selection at the gas
station on U.S. 1 (don't remember the name), and the wine list and
steak/sweetbreads from Graziano's. Plus I have always had a soft spot
for the Pelican as I was at their opening NYE party when I first moved
here.

Been back here at all, and if so, where have you eaten?

Not often in the past few years. I headed back once before my wedding
plans got overwhelming to visit a few friends. We stopped by to say
hello to [Michael] Schwartz and Hedy [Goldsmith] since I had not seen them in an age, but I
interrupted the premeal lineup and Schwartz just had flown to New
York on the opposite flight from mine, so I missed him. Next time, I
would like to check out Pacific Time 2.0 and say hello to Jonathan [Eismann] and
his wife Nia.


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