The Pelican Grand Beach Resort's New Chef, Todd Lough, Talks Fresh, Local Flavors

Todd Lough, the executive chef at the Pelican Grand Beach Resort, started at his new gig on April 9. And while he and the resort's manager Bob Keesler said the property won't unveil a revamped menu until the fall -- in order to give Lough time to learn the lay of the land and craft the ideal menu -- his penchant for fresh and local flavors already is impacting the kitchen's output.

He's started with simple steps like "braising (his) own short ribs" and using more local produce and seafood in existing menu items.

"I don't manipulate (ingredients) too much and I use local products as much as possible," Lough said of his philosophy during a recent phone interview.

Lough grew up a self-proclaimed military brat, and moved around a lot as a child, a background that allowed him to experience a wide range of culinary styles.

"Food was a passion since I was a child," he said, adding that several family members had gardens and his appreciation for fresh produce and "things made from scratch" developed from early exposure to whole foods. His culinary career also got a kick from his mother's lack of finesse in the kitchen.

"My mother was a terrible cook," he laughs. "I started cooking at age 12 for the family every night."

In 1986, he moved to San Francisco to work at famed restaurant Ernie's with chef Bruno Tison. His career includes a six-year stint as executive sous chef at Turnberry Isle resort in Aventura, and Busch's Grove in St. Louis. He's originally from Ohio and he said he's pleased to be back in the Sunshine State: "I left my snow shovel in St. Louis."

The menu overhaul planned for debut this fall will likely include a Latin influence, and Lough said he looks forward to serving seasonal items like fresh tomatoes, lettuces, mangoes, plantains, yucca, and tomatillos.

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