Brian Loughnane, Corporate Director of Food & Beverage, grew up in Galway, Ireland. “My dad was a butcher and farmer and operated our family shop, which celebrated 80 years in business last year. It was opened by my grandfather in 1939 and is currently run by my older brother,” says Loughnane who also has an older sister. “My Mum was a teacher of home economics and also the caterer and chef for the family business,” he adds.
The whole family farm, butcher, and chef thing meant Loughnane ate very well as a child. “I was a total “foodie” from a young age. I loved to explore and try new foods whenever the opportunity was available. I had the motto that I would try everything at least once and that has continued with me on my culinary adventures through life,” he adds. “I would have loved to have been a chef, but I found out I am better on the other side of the pass than behind.”
However, Loughnane did work in the family business growing up. “I worked for my family during school in the butcher shop and in local bars and restaurants. My first job after collage was with Hyatt in Columbus, Ohio.” And he has been with them ever since. “I have been with the company for 17 years and have worked all over the world,” he adds. And in some pretty cool places. “I am fortunate enough to have worked for Hyatt in Ohio, Hawaii, Australia, Egypt, Istanbul, and California, all of which created lasting friendships and memories.”
His new gig as Corporate Director of Food & Beverage is based in Chicago where he lives with his wife and two young daughters. “When the opportunity became available, I jumped at the chance to take on the role.” It was one of those dreams come true. The only thing missing is room for the four-legged kids he was raised with. “Growing up, we had several Bernese Mountain dogs. I am looking forward to living in a future location with the required space to have another.”
Loughnane studied International Hotel Management at Shannon College of Hotel Management in County Clare, not far from the family homestead.
“During an internship from college, I worked in Switzerland for a year and was fortunate to work closely with the maître d’hôtel, sommelier and our key suppliers. It was a life changing experience that opened me up to the world of wine and provided life long memories through wine including the opportunity to attend the Fête Des Vignerons, one of the world’s oldest wine festivals that happens only once in a generation.”
The most recent celebration of the Fête des Vignerons was last summer. It is unique in the world and takes place in Vevey, the town situated at the heart of the viticultural region Lavaux in the canton of Vaud, Switzerland.
And it was that experience that really kicked off Loughnane’s adventures with wine. “Currently I find myself exploring more Spanish varietals. While based in Australia, I lived close to Margaret River and spent as much time as I could in the region and have delighted in seeing it grow into the destination it has become today.” Right now, there are two places high on the bucket list. “Japan and New Zealand are two countries that I have been looking forward to exploring in the future.” However, there is one place that will always be number one. “I go home to Ireland as often as time allows,” he says. “I am living the dream and feel very fortunate for the opportunities and experiences life has provided,” he adds. One thing has so far been out of reach. “Getting drafted and being called up to the Olympic Squad might be a bit of stretch at this stage but fingers are still crossed,” he adds with a smile about a lifelong dream.
As for the ubiquitous food and wine pairing: “House made Irish Black Pudding from my family’s butcher shop paired with a 2010 Fleurie from Beaujolais.” And who are we to argue with that. Loughnane is also pretty into the whole wine themed cocktail scene. “It is great to see wine to grow as a lead ingredient on cocktail lists and I recently enjoyed a sparkling creation topped with Rosa Tequila that was memorable.” But his customary drink? “A Whisky Sour or Old Fashioned (Muddled) would be my go-to,” he adds.
When not on the job, life is pretty low key. “Time with family and friends, golfing and anything sports related.” And the rest of the bucket list? “Time is my biggest challenge and the list is too long and extensive to share but I look forward to ticking the items off over time!”