F&B recruiter and Louie’s Kids founder Louis Yuhasz looks to Costa Rica for the inspiration behind an easy weeknight dinner
(Left) Louis Yuhasz and his husband, Fred Wszolek, sit on their Isle of Palms porch; (right) an outdoor table is spread with Costa Rican dishes.
Louis Yuhasz aims to live his best life. For more than two decades, the hospitality management recruiter has matched food and bev talents with hot spots like 82 Queen, Kitchen 208, and Joséphine Wine Bar. When he’s not making culinary connections, this energetic spirit leads a vocal battle against childhood obesity through his nonprofit Louie’s Kids, which encourages kids and families to be active and healthy. Last year, along with his husband, Fred Wszolek, the 55-year-old also discovered the thrill of Spartan races, obstacle course mud runs that challenge not only one’s physical strength and stamina but also mental fortitude. And when the couple finally does take a deep breath, it’s often with a trip to their favorite getaway, Costa Rica.
In fact, Louis and Fred’s Isle of Palms cottage is a 1,600-square-foot ode to living more simply. “Everything we have, we cherish,” remarks Yuhasz. “Nothing goes unused in our house.” The former front-of-house man is known to set a beautiful dining table with flowers, the water pitcher from his sister, dessert plates gifted by a dear friend, and the fancy linens that his grandfather Howard Elledge presented to his Gram upon his return from Pearl Harbor to their vegetable farm in Marion, Virginia.
The duo approaches food with the same philosophy of simple yet meaningful dishes. They eat healthy, minimally processed meals using primarily fish, lean meat, and fresh produce grown in their raised garden beds. And just like with the linens and tableware, when they find something they love, they use it. Take their favorite meal of cilantro-lime chicken, spicy collards with tomatoes, “every night” black beans, and rice. The pair relies on this easy and flavorful combination for regular dinners as well as 25-person parties.
Fred and Louis enjoy dinner in their IOP courtyard.
The dishes take just over half an hour to prepare if the chicken is marinated in advance, making the meal an unfussy but delicious option for busy evenings. “We always tell Louie’s Kids participants not to overcomplicate Monday through Friday,” explains Louis. To that end, he relies on canned tomatoes and black beans when fixing the sides. He flavors the fire-roasted tomatoes with garlic, red pepper flakes, and liquid smoke and pairs them with tender collards. After rinsing off their sodium-laden canning juices, the beans are simmered with cilantro, cayenne, and salt before being mashed. For soft, fluffy grains, he merely relies on coconut oil and an original Charleston rice cooker unearthed several years ago at a now-defunct downtown gift shop. (Though such a cooker was once hard to come by, you can now purchase one at Royall Ace Hardware in Mount Pleasant.)
Finally, following their lime juice-cilantro-spice soak, the chicken thighs receive a quick skillet sear and then finish cooking in the oven.
Special occasions (a friend’s birthday, a neighborhood dinner party, perhaps the successful completion of a Spartan run) call for a more indulgent nod to the couple’s Costa Rica crush—tres leches cake. “We first had this dessert in a local family’s home while visiting Central America,” says Louis, who remembers thinking, “A cake made with cream, sitting in cream, topped with cream? I’m in.” He is indeed a man who savors each bite of life.
In the Kitchen with Louis Yuhasz
Lives: On the Isle of Palms with his husband, Fred Wszolek
Works: As a recruiter for hospitality management, as well as the founder/CEO of the nonprofit Louie’s Kids
On the Horizon: “Knock on burled wood, Fred and I will spend the first two months of the year in Costa Rica, where the houses are simple, the food is easy and cheap, and the gardening takes care of itself,” laughs Louis, who claims his “real self” always wears shorts and flip-flops.