Regenerative Chef Loghan Call Takes Sustainability to the Next Level
Loghan Call thinks of his childhood as idyllic. It’s not uncommon for a person to say that, but when you consider the fact that he grew up in a small community, near a biodynamic farm, surrounded by nature, and on five acres with 18 gardens full of fresh produce, it’s really tough to argue with him. Especially when you consider that for many of us, fresh produce meant a trip to the grocery store. Nowadays, Call is a Michigan-based regenerative chef that works intensely with local farmers and communities to promote healthy eating, sustainability, and regeneration. (Clearly, his youth spent in nature laid the groundwork for a bright future.)
If you’re somewhat confused about what regenerative food, farms, or chefs are, you’re not alone (we needed an explainer ourselves). Call offered up this to our confused faces: “Regenerative agriculture and regenerative thinking is all about recognizing that sustainability is not enough. It’s about restoring soil health, and it’s actually the easiest and most affordable way to combat climate change through storing carbon in the ground.” Think of it as sustainability you’re familiar with some healing thrown in.
Call’s journey to chef-dom was a winding one. In his sophomore year of high school, he moved from his idyllic and pastoral childhood home to the West Coast and got an entirely new understanding of how food works for everyone (in this case, everyone is probably most people you know.) “I didn’t have a wakeup call until I moved across the United States and was smack-dab in a big West Coast City and suddenly realized that this is not how everybody lives and went through a massive growth period in understanding what normal childhoods are like,” he says reflecting on the move from a more rural and natural area to an urban one.
It’s a big change, no question, “Once you’ve been immersed in nature and you that connection, you naturally gravitate to come back toward it or want to experience it as much as possible,” Call explained. True to form, he found himself taking opportunities to reconnect with nature during his high school and college years. And who could blame him? After a lifetime of being able to run around the great outdoors whenever you wanted, who wouldn’t crave a little release from the “concrete jungle?”
Call found himself in that jungle because he was “committed to being a baseball player.” As it turned out, a career in pro sports wasn’t in the cards, so he pivoted into broadcasting (“I’d like to say, as all failed athletes, I went into sports broadcasting because it was a natural fit,” he jokes). As a broadcaster, Call was actually quite successful, and all signs pointed to a promising career, but it didn’t feel right. On one of his sojourns out of the city, he found himself on a regenerative farm for the first time since going out west. He tells us that it instantly brought him back to his childhood and the food he grew up with, and refers to it as a “lightbulb moment of reconnection,” and the point at which he had a career shift.
Though he fully acknowledges that being paid to cover sports was an incredible opportunity, he took that lightbulb signal to heart and started to study sustainability and understanding how we can better take care of ourselves, and the planet. Through that work, he realized he could have the most impact was within food because “food connects and touches all of us unlike anything else really in the world.” He admits that his friends and family found the switch surprising, but that he had their full support.
Call’s passion for food is obvious. He began hosting small pop-up dinners in even smaller apartments and found intense joy in putting them together, “For me, it’s about using food as a connection for people coming together within a community, and that’s what we’re really about.” Those humble beginnings gave way to bigger dinners and events and eventually to full-time chef gigs in Southern Missouri and Michigan where he worked with Goodwill Industries Food Programs to rescue and redistribute food from farms and grocery stores that otherwise would’ve gone to waste. In the midst of all of that, he still found time to keep up his dinners, experiences, and events through his company Planted Cuisine. And it’s a good thing, too, because that’s essentially how he fits in the world—helping communities thrive, building regenerative food systems, and really really good meals.
John Jannuzzi is a writer and editorial director at Bonobos. He is more inclined to talk to dogs than people.