Meet the Chef

Their food, their craft, their city.

Read the full interviews of Meghan Young, Russell Skiles, Brent Goulding, and James T. Fournaris and see what they have to say about the up and coming foodie scene in Lancaster.

Characters Pub Meghan Young
Chef and Owner of Characters Pub
Born and bred in Lancaster
Twitter: @characterspub1

DL: What did you want to be when you were growing up?
MY: I vacillated beetween a chef or a lawyer. I'm glad I chose a chef.

DL: Favorite ingredient to work with?
MY:
Interesting produce like watermelon radishes, Romanesque cauliflower or Kabocha squash; when it's local it's even more fun.

DL: Where do you eat most often on your days off?
MY:
I usually go for a cuisine very different from our food at Characters like Vietnamese, Szechuan, Sushi or Indian.

DL: What is the item on your menu that you are most excited about?
MY:
Our locally raised grass fed beef burger from Country Meadows Central Market.

DL: Why Lancaster?
MY: I was born and raised here and started my career here after culinary school, then I went off to learn working in London and New York and a bunch of places in between. When I thought it was time to own my own restaurant I decided to come home and have the support of my family and friends.

DL: Do you have any kitchen pet peeves?
MY:
Too many to list... I try to run a tight ship.

DL: Any dishes you've had grief about when taking or trying to take off the menu?
MY:
Not really, I wouldn't take a super popular dish off the menu. Occasionally a guest comments about a favorite that is taken off a seasonal menu change, but when we tell them it'll be back next year they understand.

DL: What is your opinion of the restaurant evolution in Lancaster over the past 10 years?
MY:
Wow! Ten years ago I would never have guessed there would be a scene, let alone one this robust. I am very excited about what's happening in Lancaster City and proud to be a part of it.

---

Federal Taphouse Russell Skiles
Senior Sous Chef, Federal Taphouse
Age 35, from Lancaster
Twitter: @russellskiles

DL: What did you want to be when you were growing up?
RS: When I was in kindergarten our teacher asked us to draw a picture of what we wanted to be when we grew up. I drew a clown in a three piece suit. It said I wanted to be "a clown or a lawyer." That's not a joke, although I still kinda want to be a clown.

DL: Favorite ingredient to work with?
RS:
I really enjoy foraging for wild foods. I'm actually completely obsessed with it. Favorite ingredients to work with are undoubtedly wild foodstuffs that I've picked by hand. The maitake mushrooms this fall were amazing!

DL: Where do you eat most often on your days off?
RS:
I'm probably just cooking at home but if my gal and I are trying to treat ourselves we absolutely love The Iron Horse Inn.

DL: What is the item on your menu that you are most excited about?
RS:
Our charcuterie board. We prepare/cure all of the meats, salami, pate, terrines, pickles, mustards etc... ourselves. It's a true labor of love.

DL: Why Lancaster?
RS: Lancaster is home. I love this town. I grew up here. I've always lived here. I'm part of Lancaster and Lancaster is certainly a huge part of me.

DL: Do you have any kitchen pet peeves?
RS:
Poor work ethic. You don't have to have the most experience or the most knowledge or skills but you better have heart, a good work ethic and a serious willingness to grow and learn every day.

DL: Any dishes you've had grief about when taking or trying to take off the menu?
RS:
We've had serious trouble trying to take the Nutella Pizza off the menu. People weren't having it. From now on, the Nutella Pie stays!

DL: What is your opinion of the restaurant evolution in Lancaster over the past 10 years?
RS:
Love it. It's grown so much and there are so many talented chefs coming to Lancaster that it really forces us to stay on our toes and remain relavant. Chefs nowadays are less afraid to share ideas, recipes & stories with their colleagues and that's a change in the culinary community that is really important to me.

--

Aussie & the Fox Brent Goulding
Chef de cuisine, Aussie and The Fox
Age 30, from Littlestown, PA
Twitter: @brentgolding

DL: What did you want to be when you were growing up?
BG: A meteorologist

DL: Favorite ingredient to work with?
BG:
I always get a lot of pleasure out of a well cooked vegetable. Whether it's something heartier in the winter or something light in the summer, vegetables want to stand out, so it's fulfilling to create something from them that's not only delicious and satisfying but different and interesting.

DL: Where do you eat most often on your days off?
BG:
Simple food, mostly Asian. Lots of Thai and Vietnamese.

DL: What is the item on your menu that you are most excited about?
BG:
The plate we worked up with our market steaks gets me pretty fired up. We roast fingerling potatoes on a bed of hay and then infuse that hay into butter to use with the potatoes later. We also ferment some cabbage for about a week. To round it out, we make our own steak sauce. To me, those three things on one plate with a steak, just say "Lancaster County,"

DL: Why Lancaster?
BG: For me, one of the keys to a great restaurant is having the best products and being as close to those products as possible. Some of the best restaurants in the Mid-Atlantic are getting their products right from here. It made sense to me to be as close to those products as possible.

DL: Do you have any kitchen pet peeves?
BG:
Like just about any other chef I know, we've got a level of OCD that gushes over into how we work. I get a nervous twitch whenever I see things aren't exactly in their place, setup exactly a certain way, and not done cleanly. Take 2 mintues and get them exactly right. A clean work station is a clean mind.

DL: Any dishes you've had grief about when taking or trying to take off the menu?
BG:
I think people have been really responsive so far. There was a fried cauliflower appetizer on the menu when I came on board and was told there'd be an uprising if it went away. It needed some serious tweaking from it's current state to make sense with the rest of the menu but to also be on a level that made sense with the other vegetable dishes we were making. I'm pretty happy with what we have now. It's a great appetizer to snack on and packs some great flavor.

DL: What is your opinion of the restaurant evolution in Lancaster over the past 10 years?
BG:
I don't think that Lancaster has quite felt the full pull of the locavore movement yet, which is strange to say because of what Lancaster is and what it has to offer, but like anywhere else, it's driven by the people and the market it creates. I think the people of Lancaster are starting to see restaurants, dining, and food in a different way and I think there'll be even more of a shift towards an evolved restaurant scene in the years to come.

--

Stockyard Inn James T. Fournaris
Part owner/chef, Stockyard Inn
Originally from Lancaster

DL: What did you want to be when you were growing up?
JF: Believe it or not, there was never a doubt in my mind that I wanted to be involved in the family restaurant business. I was exposed to the business at a very young age and loved every aspect of it. Even at the age of ten I was helping wash glasses and doing little odd jobs around the restaurant.

DL: Favorite ingredient to work with?
JF:
We have such a diverse menu including so many items that it's difficult to have a favorite. I very much enjoy hand-cutting the best quality steaks and chops and creating our daily specials.

DL: Where do you eat most often on your days off?
JF:
For the fact that I work so much, I truly appreciate our dinners with family and friends.

DL: What is the item on your menu that you are most excited about?
JF:
The items I am most excited about are actually not on our  menu - they are our daily specials. I enjoy creating features with one of our Prime steaks or catch of the day.

DL: Why Lancaster?
JF: Quite simply, because the restaurant was already here. I am very fortunate to be part of a successful family business. My grandfather James started the Stockyard Inn in 1952; the next generation was my father, Tom; and now I am the third generation.

DL: Do you have any kitchen pet peeves?
JF:
Not putting kitchen tools back in their proper place.

DL: Any dishes you've had grief about when taking or trying to take off the menu?
JF:
We took the Stuffed Shrimp topped with Colossal Crabmeat off the menu but because of its popularity, we make it upon request and offer it as a daily special.

DL: What is your opinion of the restaurant evolution in Lancaster over the past 10 years?
JF:
It is wonderful for the community of Lancaster to have such diversity of eating and drinking places. Competition is healthy and I welcome it. We truly feel blessed to be one of the restaurants in Lancaster that has seen many changes and stood the test of time.

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