GTPulse: Chef Loghan – Herbivore Extraordinaire
Most Americans don't fulfill their daily servings of fruit and vegetables. Traverse City based chef Loghan Call has a passion for vegan cooking and is working to introduce people to the magic of plant power, meat eaters and all.
I recently started following a 30-day calendar of vegetarian meals. After letting my health go to hell throughout most of the year, I found myself constantly feeling moody, sensitive, foggy, physically weak, and tired. Chronic sleep deprivation lead me to over caffeinating every morning with anything I could get my hands on. During the stay at home order, if I didn’t have coffee I would resort to preworkout to wake me up in the morning. There’s nothing like typing away with tingling, itchy fingertips, and hearing your heart race in warm ears. I would inevitably crash sometime in the late afternoon, after eating a late first meal of the day that rotated between blueberry cream cheese bagels or chips and salsa. I would wake up in the evening, be too lethargic to make dinner, and would resort to either takeout or more unhealthy snacks. That pattern has dictated my year, and I’m just recently breaking it. You fall into a bad pattern of sleeping and eating and the effects seep into the rest of your life. It gets tough to break out of. Despite being a plant-based chef now, Loghan Call knows a bit about what this feels like.
“I had a super unhealthy college diet. I ate everything in sight for like, six years. At least.”
While studying sports broadcasting at university, Loghan lived the American college lifestyle, which included plenty of salty, high fat, deep-fried and meat-filled dishes. His body was young and healthy enough to withstand the unhealthy diet, but it was a far cry from the way he was brought up.
A childhood in upstate New York was filled with plenty of trees, fresh air, natural beauty and a large garden in his backyard provided by his mother.
“It was a very idyllic place to grow up, we were on a few acres. Our whole property was filled with gardens, fruit trees, different types of herbs and flowers. So we were there until after my freshman year of high school. ”
Naomi Call filled Loghan and his brother’s childhood with different diets that were plant-heavy and generally devoid of meat. Healthy living became a big part of his childhood, but Baseball was his youth’s biggest constant.
“We moved to California and I was playing baseball up until junior college. I tried out but didn’t make it.”
His love for the sport wasn’t discouraged. He decided to pursue sports broadcasting in college. He was a quick study for media work and landed an internship at CBS Sports that turned into a full-time job. Through that work, he was able to produce documentaries and other forms of media. He found it all exciting, but not particularly fulfilling.
“At the end of the day, I’ve always wanted to make a difference. That’s always wheat’s driven any work-related thing. With broadcast journalism, I was dissatisfied constantly and I just kept trying to find more meaningful work.”
He got out of sports journalism and began creating media for nonprofits and began working with one that was dedicated to sustainability in professional sports. He was creating video content for them and had to interview many sustainability and environmental experts. Through the impromptu education he was receiving, he became increasingly interested in environmental health. He was also just beginning to transition out of the unhealthy diet that followed him out of college.
“I was looking into the environmental side of being more plant-based, like the impacts of diet on the environment. UCLA had a certificate program in sustainability through an extension program so I did that and just decided to have an urban food and ag focus.”
The food aspect of it was a return to his childhood in upstate New York and reignited passion for the colorful fruits, veggies, and fresh herbs he remembered. His new education lead him to meet a farmer by the name of Eric Cutter, owner of Alegria Farm in Laguna Beach. The regenerative farm focuses on soil health to grow nutrient-dense produce. The produce inspired Loghan to create culinary masterpieces that showcased their incredible taste. This turned into him serving up 7-course plant-based meals to dinner guests at his L.A. apartment for $20 a head.
“Your body looks for vitamins and minerals and nutrients, so the moment your body gets them it sends a signal that you don’t need any more food. So people were eating a relatively small salad and a soup and were saying that they were full. It totally blew my mind that this is how our bodies are supposed to operate.”
That model turned into Planted Cuisine, a full-service catering, and private chef service.
He left broadcasting to pursue being a chef and after taking a job at a vegan cafe in Missouri, a job working as the executive chef for Goodwill Inn brought him to Michigan where he eventually decided to solely focus on bringing Planted Cusine to the region.
“It was the first time I went 100% full time with Planted Cuisine in terms of income. The first large pop-up we did here was at Brengman Brothers Winery. We did not tell people it was plant-based. We really kind of had to hide that fact.”
The dinner was a hit. A series of pop-up dinners began to frequent venues all over the Grand Traverse area, each time with a common theme – guests being pleasantly surprised by how good and satisfying a meatless meal can be. Although he’s happy with receiving the high praise, he’s happier with introducing people to the idea that incorporating more plant-based ingredients into your life can be something that tastes good and makes you feel good.
Planted Cuisine has a philosophy rooted in soil health and regenerative farming. A big inspiration for Loghan’s culinary journey was a farmer that he met while living in California. While organic farming focuses on not disrupting the soil of farmed land with tilling or chemicals, regenerative farming focuses on restoring the health of the soil.
He works closely with local farmers from Alchemy Farm, Loma Farm, Lakeview Hill Farm, Bear Creek Organic Farm, and Providence Farm because he relies on their produce to dictate his menus. He doesn’t draw inspiration from recipes but instead, the foods that are in season and freshly harvested. He wants people of all ages and skill levels to be able to do the same. With pop up dinners open to the public on hold due to the pandemic, he is connecting folks to Planted Cuisine through more of his private chef services, but he’s introduced an education platform and a podcast that will make plant-based cooking feel fun and accessible.
Some of that media experience will come in handy with Nothing To Eat Podcast, a live radio-style show that encourages callers to call in with all of their home cooking questions. From the simple to the sophisticated, no culinary question is off-limits. For the many of us who stare into a fridge with ingredients that we have no idea what to do with, the live Podcast is a fun and interactive guide to putting dinner on the table and will air October 21st on Planted Cuisines Instagram Live.
The Education Platform is meant to teach people techniques to use in their own kitchens. The video series run every first and third Monday on the brand’s Facebook page, and every second and fourth Monday on the Instagram page. Both begin at 8 p.m.
“Home cooking can feel very stressful. I’m trying to get people off of the recipe train. We can give people the baseline skills to build flavor and once you know how to do that you can cook anything. How we’re going to have the next generation of home cooks is by giving people the tools and knowledge to have freedom in the kitchen. That’s what I’m really passionate about tackling.”
Returning to his roots has never felt so good.
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