Chef Lou was born in Boise and when he was 11 days old, his family moved back to their home state of Alabama. He spent his first 11 years of his life there, but his family moved back to Boise in 1973 after bouts with bad weather and tornados made them remember how beautiful and peaceful it was in Boise.
He attended St. Mary’s Grade School and graduated from Bishop Kelly High School in 1980.
Lou graduated from the American Culinary Federation’s Chef’s Apprenticeship program in 1984.
He has worked in restaurants since 1977. His first job was at the Havana Club-Bouquet restaurant in Boise where he washed dishes and bussed tables. He Chef-apprenticed in Boise at the Gamekeeper Restaurant in the Owyhee Hotel and the well-remembered Royal restaurant in Boise under American Academy of Chef member, John R. Fisher.
Lou moved to Atlanta, Georgia in 1981 and worked for Hilton Hotels until 1983. In 1983, he opened The Top of the Hoff restaurant in Boise, Idaho. From 1986-1988, Lou worked for Hilton Corporation in San Antonio, Texas, where he was featured in the national television series “Great Chef’s of the West” along with the companion cookbook, “Southwest Tastes”. Lou has won numerous awards for his food presentations and recipes. He has been a contestant on “Guy’s Grocery Games”(although he didn’t fare very well!)
He attributes his love for cooking from his Mom & Dad. “My dad cooked great Southern foods and My Mom’s history is from the Abruzzi Region in Italy, so I got a good mix of old fashioned Southern comfort food and wonderful Italian regional specialties.” He has a love for both styles, but he really fell in love with Southwestern food when he was in Texas. Lou has a lot of fun mixing and matching these cuisines. From 1989-1994, Lou was a Corporate Chef for Ram International (Murphy’s, the Ram).
In 1994, Lou and his partner Ron Isaacs (Father-in-Law) purchased The Westside Drive-in, transforming the little Drive-In into a full blown unique Food experience. The Westside makes all their soups, sauces, and staple recipes from scratch, as well roasting all their meats and baking fresh bread. It has been a key ingredient to the Westside’s success.
The Westside has been the recipient of many awards over the last 22 years, and its recipes have been featured in 2 national Cookbooks. We are very proud to be a Boise institution!
In 2009, the Westside was featured in the hit Food Network show, “Diner’s, Drive-In’s, and Dives.” With such great exposure, Lou decided to open another Westside Drive-In in Southeast Boise in 2012. Now, there are two Westsides to serve you!
He also 100% wholeheartedly believes that Happy Cooks make Happy People!
Lou met his wife of 30 fantastic years, Renee, in 1985, when she was working with him at The Top of the Hoff. They were married in 1987. Their oldest son, Josh, is owner and operator the Parkcenter Westside, and their daughter, Emily, is the bookkeeper for both restaurants.
Chef Lou enjoys cooking in front of people and he has had a cooking segment on NBC’s KTVB Channel 7 for 23 years. He also runs the incredibly popular Idaho Ice Cream Potato Booths at the Western Idaho Fair and Art in the Park. Lou is currently serving as President of his Company, RILA Business Concepts, Inc. and also as President of Boise based Creative Foods, Inc., the company that manufactures Chef Lou’s famous dessert, The Idaho Ice Cream Potato. He is a past chairman of NFIB(National Federation of Independent Business) Idaho.
He was recently ordained a Deacon in the Catholic Church and believes life’s mission truly is about helping other people on their journey. Lou is so very thankful for all the many people throughout his life that have helped him on his journey.