Originally Published on LancasterOnline
After learning he couldn’t attain his dream of becoming a sailor because he couldn’t pass the colorblindness test, Gunter Backhaus embraced cooking as his backup plan — thinking he could eventually cook on a boat.
Becoming a master chef turned out to be Backhaus’ passport to a life of international travel and work, and also one as a longtime, successful restaurateur in Lancaster city.
This week, closing in on 60 years as a chef and approaching his 75th birthday, Backhaus enters his 30th year of owning and operating The Loft, downtown Lancaster’s venerable fine-dining restaurant at Orange and Water streets.
He is assisted in the endeavor by his daughter and manager, Kirsten Backhaus-Smith, who has “worked here since I can remember,” she says. “I started out dipping strawberries and taking coats.”
So how did this German native, who has plied his skills as an executive chef in high-end restaurants and hotels in Paris, London, Amsterdam, Madrid, Bermuda, the Bahamas, St. Louis and Asheville, North Carolina, wind up in Lancaster?
Earlier this week, we asked this multilingual master chef to talk about his varied, cosmopolitan culinary career before he took over a successful local restaurant — and kept it successful.