In the Kitchen with Executive Chef Troy Tornabeni
Last month, Lied Lodge & Conference Center in Nebraska City welcomed a new executive chef to its culinary crew.
Troy Tornabeni hails from the Chicago area and brings an extensive background of hospitality dining experience — along with a passion for all-things food — to the Lied Lodge kitchen.
Welcome, Chef Troy, and we look forward to delicious things ahead.
Q: Tell us a little bit about your professional experience in the Chicago area.
I grew up in the kitchen. My grandfather owned the Polk Hotel in Chicago, and I started in the dish room at age 10, working my way up to the broiler. I attended the Cooking and Hospitality Institute of Chicago for formal training and took apprenticeships under Paul Kahan at Blackbird, Noah Bekofsky at Aria in the Fairmont Hotel, and Gonzalo Resendiz at Hollywood Casino — all well-respected chefs in their own right. After graduation, I was offered the sous chef position at Hollywood Casino, then given the executive chef position at Fairbanks Steakhouse just eight months later at the age of 20. Since then, I’ve held executive chef positions with Hollywood Casino, Orchard Valley Golf Course, St. Andrews Golf and Country Club, and Stonebridge Country Club.
Q: Who are your culinary influences?
David Burke, Rick Tramonto, Paul Kahan, my mother.
Q: Do you have a food philosophy?
I try not to live by any set philosophy in food, other than using the best ingredients available to create the best food from scratch — determined on concept, demographics, and budget. I try to evolve my repertoire around trends, seasonality, and sustainable and local whenever possible.
Q: What are you looking forward to the most about your role as Executive Chef at Lied Lodge?
The opportunity to create memorable culinary moments out of the gorgeous offerings from Arbor Day Farm. It is so rare for a chef to be able to say, ‘The items I am cooking with today literally comes from our backyard.’ Here, I can say that.