Editor's note: This article was published in Grand Traverse Scene magazine's Spring 2019 issue. Pick up a free copy at area hotels, visitor's centers, chambers of commerce or at the Record-Eagle building on Front Street. Click here to read GT Scene in its entirety online.
Name: Loghan Call
Job: Regenerative foods chef and founder of Planted Cuisine, creating events centered around showcasing hyper-local, plant-based foods. I work in partnership with Table Health TC and local businesses on events, education and pop-up food experiences.
Born in: Pittsburgh
Lives in: Maple City
Training: I didn’t attend culinary school of any type. My mom was a chef who taught me every day growing up. From there, I’ve been self taught as well as inspired by chefs from around the world.
Why I became a chef: I became a chef after I went back to school and focused my studies on global sustainability at UCLA. It was there that I learned about systems thinking and how food is connected to everything. As someone who has always wanted to make a difference, I realized that food and farming (were) ground zero for enacting meaningful changes to reverse climate change. Plus I have always loved food and being in the kitchen. Food is one of the few things that is able to bring folks from all walks of life together, and I realized it was the perfect medium for me to be able to have fun while engaging people on the important issues surrounding our food system.
Experience: Executive chef at Goodwill Industries, executive chef at Baker Creek Heirloom Seed Co., private chef in Los Angeles.
Favorite things to make: Everything I do is inspired by nature — what is readily available to us through foraging our local areas and the hard work of our dedicated farmers. In this light, my favorite dishes are ones inspired by a walk on a farm or in the woods.
Biggest influence: I would say overall my mom, who has always inspired me to use food as a means of creating health and wellness. Within the current restaurant world, (it would be) René Redzepi of Noma (Denmark) with the work he has done to showcase how hyper-local cuisine can be the best in the world, along with creating excitement for fermentation within the culinary world. Another chef I highly respect for his work in bringing the topic of work-life balance and culture within restaurants to the forefront is Ben Shewry from Attica (Australia).
Best professional memory: Last year, I was one of the 600 participants to be invited to the MAD Food Symposium in Denmark. In short, it’s the premiere gathering of food industry professionals who care about creating a healthy, sustainable and just future for our profession. To be in the room with many of the world’s best chefs, writers and producers was a tremendous honor. I also saw it as a real acknowledgement of my approach and commitment in the work that I do. To represent northern Michigan in a room filled with the finest in the world was both gratifying and inspiring.
Worst professional memory: For me, it’s the everyday challenge of pushing to make our industry, and the food created in our industry, better, healthier and toward regenerative practices. Our food system is set up to pump out cheap, unhealthy foods and even these kinds of foods have pretty terrible margins for those in the industry. The main reasons our margins are as “good” as they are is because of subsidies, underpaid labor and alcohol sales. Now try to improve the quality of ingredients, pay our farmers a somewhat decent price, pay your staff a living wage and be mindful of my own work-life balance and the numbers simply don’t add up at this point. So every day for me, it’s working with the understanding that myself and everyone I am working with is being underpaid and often overworked. Many days are split between enjoying the challenge and being overwhelmed and frustrated with the current reality we are operating in.
Most important thing I’ve learned: Soil health equals human health. I learned this early on from Erik Cutter, a brilliant farmer in California. The answer to vastly improving our own health and that of our environment lies within the soil. We actually know less about the soil under our feet than we do space. The limited, but growing knowledge we do have is that the biology of soil is very similar to that of the human gut. If we produce food grown in nutrient-rich soil, it provides our gut with the nutrients we need to thrive. Plus building soil health, organic matter is the easiest and cheapest way to sequester carbon, which is critical in reversing climate change.
Cast Iron Greens with Toasted Sesame
This recipe is simple, yet makes greens appealing to even the pickiest eater, Call says.
2 bunches (or about 4 c. chopped) greens (kale, spinach, mizuna, arugula, dandelions, etc.)
1/4 c. chopped green onion
Fat of choice (olive oil, sunflower oil, Miyoko’s butter, etc.)
1/4 c. raw sesame seeds
Salt sesame seeds. In a small pan, heat sesame seeds until they start to brown and “pop.” Remove from heat and allow to cool before grinding with herb grinder, blender or using a mortar and pestle. Using a cast-iron pan on medium heat, add 3 tablespoons fat along with the green onion s until they start to sizzle and sear in the pan. Add in chopped greens with salt to taste. Using tongs or a spoon, quickly stir the greens so they sear quickly. You want the greens cooked until tender, not soft (they should still be bright green). Remove from heat and into your serving dish. Garnish with sesame seeds. Serve immediately. Makes 4 portions.