UPPER PROVIDENCE — Most 23-year-olds with a passion for cooking can only dream of someday being a part of a renowned culinary team of a top-rated restaurant, set in a world famous resort in the lush tropical Hawaiian Islands. William “Will” Lochetto is only days away from living that dream.
A 2015 graduate of Penncrest High School in the Rose Tree Media School District, Lochetto discovered his talents in the kitchen as a young teenager and has been on the fast track to “bigger and better” ever since.
At age 15, Lochetto took a job as a dishwasher at Azie Media. The chef there started teaching him how to cook and he developed an interest in Japanese cooking.
While in high school, he enrolled in the Delaware County Technical School’s Culinary Arts program. In his senior year, he entered the Careers Through Culinary Arts Program Cooking Competitions and won a generous scholarship to The Restaurant School at Walnut Hill College in Philadelphia. In addition to honing and growing his chef skills in the classroom there, Lochetto was provided a gastronomic tour of France to expand his culinary horizons and learn even more.
In addition to earning an associate degree in culinary arts in 2017, he also earned an internship at CoZara in University City, where he expanded his hands-on education of Japanese cuisine.
Owned by Chef Hiroyuki “Zama” Tanaka, one of the top sushi chefs in Philadelphia and current owner of Zama near Rittenhouse Square, CoZara promoted the young chef to lead line cook, where he began to attract attention by creating a few of the restaurant’s specials.
In 2018, Lochetto was offered to be a part of the opening team of Stephen Starr’s The Love on 18th Street. He worked as a line cook there for two years.
“The Love was a really good learning experience for me,” Lochetto explained. “I learned a lot about different products, the Farm to Table concept, and seasonal menu rotations, as well as how to cook at high volume for many guests at once.”
When Lochetto found out that Jean-George’s Philadelphia was opening in the Four Seasons Hotel on the top floor of the new Comcast Technology Center, at 18th and Arch streets, he went to a job fair at the Pennsylvania Convention Center to apply. Three more interviews later and Lochetto landed a job at what many considered to be one of the most premium dining spot in the city.
Lochetto said that he was the first cook hired in June and he trained until the prestigious restaurant’s opening in August. Michelin-starred chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten and his culinary team stayed for a month at the new restaurant to train the cooks and staff to deliver the impeccable food and service that guests would expect at a Jean-Georges restaurant. The famous chef owns 39 around the world.
“The environment at Jean-Georges had the most pristine kitchen that I have ever seen,” Lochetto shared. “They also had the most expensive product that I ever worked with in my life.”
Lochetto said all food at Jean-Georges is made from scratch, with a shelf life of only one to two days.
Being a young eager beaver in the culinary world with a penchant to travel and explore new places and opportunities, Lochetto said he was checking out the internal job postings of Four Seasons Hotels & Resorts, which have over 100 luxury properties worldwide. Lochetto knew that after working at a Four Seasons Hotel & Resort for only a year, employees were eligible to transfer. While checking out the openings, Lochetto stumbled upon his next opportunity of a lifetime.
After interviewing, the talented chef with Delaware County roots was offered a position and signed on to join the culinary team at Sensei by Nobu at Sensei Lanai, Hawaii. This Four Seasons Resort, a newly launched luxurious wellness enclave on the secluded Hawaiian island of Lanai, features personalized itineraries, spa treatments, fitness classes, an adventure park, island activities, and a new dining concept created by world renowned Chef Nobu Matsuhisa, doctors, and nutritionists, with an evidence led approach to wellness. From locally grown produce to sustainable practices, Sensei is passionate about food and its impact on the body. Guests can enjoy dishes that incorporate Sensei’s nutritional philosophy as well as Nobu classics, surrounded by the beauty of nature. Also on site are Sensei farms, hydroponic and Tesla powered greenhouses growing millions of pounds of produce.
In 2012, Tech titan Larry Ellison, the chairman and co-founder of Oracle Corporation, bought the remote island of Lanai, located off the coast of Maui, from David Murdock of Dole Food Co. With a population of about 4,000 people, the island was once one of the largest pineapple producers in the world. Sensei Lanai opened in 2019.
Lochetto said that he researched life on the island before accepting the position and found the environment to be quite opposite of what he’s used to now, even in Lanai City, a former pineapple plantation town, where he will likely reside. He said there’s not much nightlife or other things to which city people are accustomed. Life, instead, life revolves around the outdoors, with popular leisure activities like snorkeling, waterskiing, hunting, fishing and other water sports.
“Accepting the position was a risk on my part,” Lochetto said. “But I feel like I will adapt to the island lifestyle and, let’s face it, Hawaii sure seems like a nice place to be!”
Hired as a chef de partie, a station chef in charge of a particular area of production in a restaurant, Lochetto says he is excited to learn more about the source of food, sustainability and eco-friendly food to table cooking. Although he has always specialized in Japanese cuisine, as an exceptionally talented chef, he hopes to develop a style of his own. He still enjoys cooking and eating “old school” Italian dishes, as well as Japanese, and healthier, lighter fare.
He also looks forward to working under Chef Nobuyuki "Nobu" Matsuhisa, the world famous Japanese celebrity chef and restaurateur known for his fusion cuisine blending traditional Japanese dishes with Peruvian ingredients.
When asked if he has any reservations about the long-distance move, Lochetto said he will probably miss his family, his mother Tracy Price (Lochetto) and twin brother Angelo Lochetto, residents of Upper Providence, and his father Angelo Lochetto Sr. of Ambler.
“I am hoping that I won’t get island fever from relocating so far from home,” he said.
His mom Tracy said the 14-hour flight will not deter her from visiting her son.
“I hope to beat the U.S. Postal Service with his shipment of home furnishings,” she laughed when asked how long it will be until she gets a taste of her son’s paradise. “Honestly, I’ll wait until he settles, but then, Aloha! I am heading west for the Sensei experience!”
Chef Will will leave Delaware County on Oct. 16 and begin creating culinary delights in the kitchen of Sensei by Nobu in the lush Hawaiian island paradise of Lanai by Oct. 18.
“This truly is an opportunity of a lifetime,” Lochetto stated. “Being a new property, the position will give me lots of room to grow. I am really excited about the opportunity!”