These interviews are part of a series that highlights new hires within the industry. Have you recently started a new role or do you know someone who has? Submit your ideas to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Ryan McQuillan was recently hired as the chef of Lancaster Marriott Hotel.
1. What are you looking forward to the most in your role?
I’m thrilled by the opportunity to work alongside a talented staff who are all passionate about Lancaster. We have strong team comradery and are constantly learning from each other. We have a beautiful kitchen in downtown Lancaster, and I want to catapult Plough and The Exchange into the spotlight to showcase how Lancaster can rival some of the country’s top culinary cities. The ability to oversee two restaurants with completely different menus keeps everyday new and exciting.
2. How do you think past experiences have prepared you for this role?
Working with local farmers and developing relationships with purveyors in Lancaster has grown my network enormously. Our farm-to-table approach is magnified by having contacts who come to us first when there’s something new to offer, and understanding how the farmers tend their crop helps curate our daily printed menus.
I’ve also had tremendous mentorship from restaurateurs such as Aimee Olexy. She helped change and shape the way I look at cooking, and she showed me how the local food scene can be taken to the next level by honing in on each ingredient individually.
3. How did you get into the industry?
Family. My mom was a really good cook and I enjoyed seeing her put recipes together and then going on to replicate them. My former brother-in-law was also a chef and that inspired me. My first job as a teenager was working in the catering division at McCaffrey’s Food Market in Bucks County where I worked with rotisserie chicken. Ironically, now my kitchen at Plough has a beautiful display of rotisserie chickens sourced from Horseshoe Ranch that guests can see from the dining room.
4. What are you hoping to achieve in your new role?
I want to infiltrate the Lancaster food scene and set the bar for what this city can accomplish. We have terrific restaurants leading the scene such as Lucca and Maison, and travelers are recognizing us as a culinary destination. The response to Plough and The Exchange has been enormously positive and I’m confident that we’ll continue delivering exceptional service to our guests and surprise them with each new season.
5. What do you enjoy most about the industry?
I love working with new ingredients and creating something different. You get to interact with people from all over the world who have such incredible culinary experiences. It’s helped center me as a chef, and as a person.
I enjoy seeing the changing food trends and how chefs adapt to them. I have a feeling mushrooms will be one of the next big food crazes; it’s incredible to see how chefs are experimenting with them and creating such dynamic dishes.