As a child, Josh Munchel's first love wasn't food at all. He didn't dream of running a kitchen or creating new dishes. He loved photography.

So, then, how did Munchel, now 31, become managing chef at ThreeSixty, the revolving restaurant atop the Radisson in Covington? It all started with a camera, and a high school kid who wanted to take a few pictures.

"I went to Sycamore High School in Cincinnati and I liked taking pictures, especially of food," Munchel says, caught in a rare down moment before his restaurant's 5 p.m. opening. "I liked to display the food and take pictures of it, so one day I thought I may need to learn more about the actual food part."

He enrolled in the Scarlet Oaks culinary program for the remainder of his high school career.

"In my junior year of high school I was into the imagery and artistry of the food, but I started to realize I had a real natural talent for taste," he says.

As a senior, he led his class to their first-ever appearance in a national cooking competition in Boston.

"I had an understanding of tastes," he says. "I feel like I knew how to season properly, and I had a focus and intensity, a drive to be better."

Photography became just a hobby, and Munchel packed his bags for culinary school at Sullivan University in Louisville. As he earned his degree, he drove back to Cincinnati on weekends and worked at Daveed's restaurant in Mount Adams.

"I originally helped open the restaurant, laying the gravel for the patio outside," he says. "I helped re-do the inside, and I made salads on weekends while I was going to school."

He would work there for eight years before leaving for jobs at Cumin, and then Aqua, in Hyde Park, followed by Via Vite on Fountain Square, where he served as sous chef.

Last year, he got the call to come to ThreeSixty.

"I wanted to reinvent it and give it a more forward-thinking cooking style," he says. "We wanted to be more than a steakhouse. Now, it's an overall dining experience. But we still have steak "” the people of Northern Kentucky love their red meat."

Munchel, who says he prefers Spanish cuisine, brought a bit of each influence he picked up on his stops through Cincinnati restaurants, including Asian, Indian and Italian dishes. "Basically, it's all the flavors that I was able to experience throughout the city," he says. "Now we have specials like Asian salmon and Indian chicken marinated in yogurt."

After a year, Munchel says, the response has been positive.

"The place still looks a little dated, but as far as the food goes, you know, people are saying good things," he says. "A redesign is down the road."

Munchel, who lives in downtown Cincinnati, says he's thrilled with the opportunity to create at ThreeSixty.

"This is a chance to reopen people's minds," he says. "This is a place a lot of people just drive by every day "” they don't realize there's a lot of fun flavors up here." 

"This is a place a lot of people just drive by every day "” they don't realize there's a lot of fun flavors up here."