With The Southern C Summit Work + Wellness Retreat only six weeks away (yay!) we are wrapping up all of the details including menu selections… one of the most fun parts! We are excited to have the Corporate Executive Chef for St. Joe Club & Resorts–including WaterColor® Inn and Resort and The Pearl–planning an amazing menu for attendees that is not only fresh, but takes advantage of the coastal 30a locale, including the surrounding Gulf of Mexico and nearby farms of the Florida panhandle.
A veteran of the food and beverage industry, with an impressive resume to match, Chef Todd also makes for a fun and interesting interview. Get to know this Southern creative as he answers a few questions for us…
First position in the kitchen:
Cooking with my grandmother on the farm in West Virginia as a kid – biscuits and gravy, jams, jellies, mashed potatoes, sweet white corn, banana pudding. Then, as a paperboy (my first job in 5th grade) I learned to cook breakfast for myself because everyone was still asleep – pancakes, waffles, eggs, bacon.
The first real cooking job I had was working at a country club as a life guard. One day, the chef came to the pool and did a Hawaiian luau and I was so impressed I ask the chef if I could work with him. He responded “yes, after you finish here,” so at 16 I was already working doubles and loved it! He taught me so much about cooking and he was also a CIA graduate, so I got first class training. He also taught me the art of ice carving which I have done for years now.
First food memory:
Sundays after church at my grandmother’s big table in the kitchen. We all sat around just covered with all kind of dishes and foods from the garden. The mashed potatoes and gravy were always right in from of me so after the prayer I would get first dibs. My grandfather would finish up by cleaning his plate with a biscuit and expected us to do the same!
Some things we would spy in your pantry:
Jalapeno kettle chips, chipotle peanuts, pastas, marinara, and an assortment of crackers + peanut butter.
And what’s always in your fridge?
A selection of imported and domestic cheese, Claussen’s whole pickles, spicy dried sausages (chorizo is my favorite), Wrights thick cut bacon, eggs, beer.
What would you want for your last meal?
Beluga caviar omelet with champagne, Scallops Coquilles Saint Jacque with Chardonnay, 20 oz. Wagyu Rib Eye with Béarnaise, Lobster Rockefeller, Fried Oysters, Haute Brion Bordeaux, Classic Soufflé and Chateau d’Yquem
Dream guest list of three people for a dinner party and why?
My grandmother who first taught me to cook, Martin Luther King for what he did to change the world, and God for what he did to save the world.
Career if you were not a chef?
I have never wished to do anything else… “I am self-employed. I just find people to pay for what I love to do.” If not this, I could also see myself as a culinary instructor/fishing captain.
Do you have a favorite Southern dish that is always better “old school” rather than updated or “improved?”
Smoking BBQ pork or beef brisket “slow and low baby” with lots of beer on ice.
For more Culinary Q&A’s from Whitney Long: