There’s something rather appealing about Chef Meghan Young, owner of Character’s Pub. Maybe it was in the tequila or it’s those bandana tamed curls. (I’m of the opinion chicks with curls have a touch more moxie than most.) During the Gettin’ Saucy Cookin’ Class she shared her margarita and martini recipe. The trick wasn’t how to shake it, but the injustice to margaritas in a pre-made mix and a bonus schooling on tequila. She went on to effortlessly teach mole to churros recipes. It’s all in her attention to details that I could be crushing on. (I have a feeling she likes to laugh too.)
The depth of her food knowledge blossoms in the food rules defining cultural cooking styles and her years as a student and teacher. She has been immersed, mentored and taught British Nouveau, Kosher, Italian and Mexican cuisine.
(photo courtesy : Kathlene Carroll Sullivan)
It seems natural, upon retuning home at 35, she connected with local sources for ingredients. It’s that connection to Lancaster Central Market that got me all a buzz about Chef Meghan.
It was a goal of hers, the restaurant; an ambition set in anticipation of a milestone-ish birthday. She wanted to own her first restaurant by the age of 35, closing on Character’s Pub ten weeks prior to her 35th birthday. It’s where she hosts (in addition to lunch and dinner) regional cuisine themed monthly gatherings and cooking classes.
This Lancaster native got her cooking hands wet in her mother’s kitchen. Meghan’s mother, a nurse and a self-taught cook, picked up her skills from her talented mother. While catering a friend’s wedding Meghan’s mother suggested her daughter consider a career in cooking, she had a natural knack for it.
Shortly after graduation from the Baltimore International Culinary College Chef Meghan traveled to London working under Master Chef Mark Gregory at Axis Restaurant in the renowned One Aldwych Hotel. Upon returning to the states she went right to New York City’s Upper East Side. Those years were filled with travel between Palm Beach, Long Island and New York City. She worked as a chef, food consultant, developed menus, tested recipes for cookbooks, trained staff, started kitchens from scratch and collaborated with some well-known chefs. During her time in New York City, she worked across the street from Union Square Market but it’s Lancaster Central Market that really stole her heart.
The local, fresh flavor of Lancaster Central Market enhances her recipe inspiration. She describes Lancaster Central Market as full of, “awesome and beautiful products with amazing quality and it’s not pretentious.”
Character’s Pub chicken tenders are made from scratch with a 24-hour Maplehofe Dairy buttermilk soaking before battering and frying. Country Meadows Farms, Stoner’s Homegrown Vegetables and Brogue Hydroponics are just a few producers you will find represented in Character’s Pub dishes. You will always find seasonal options on the menu as well old favorites.
Since taking ownership at at Character’s Meghan has retained regulars with her commitment to quality. Her faithful customers even give notice as to when they are going on vacation (so no one worries about their absence). She and her staff remember the little things and it’s what her clients like, being recognized by name or serving suggestions based on their personal taste.
Some of the original items have stayed on menu but there is a new influence on the menu. Her success is found in quality and consistency that comes with time and passion. More than that it seems her character and integrity bring the respect from her staff, created an authentic sense of community within her new four walls and makes her dishes approachable (and she likes to smile).
How can you get your hands on some of these dishes and experience the authentic and unique setting of this gastropub? Get out to Celebrate Lancaster City Restaurant Week at Characters Pub this week. It is the perfect way to sample patron favorite menu items at a great price.(psst… the pasta is handmade and her meatloaf is a family recipe) Consider being a part of a regional dinner, Spanish Wines and Cuisines, and if you see she is hosting a cooking class you should take it. I would never steer you wrong.
You will also want to be sure to listen to my after the interview podcast with Chef Meghan. She’ll share some tips for the home cook and talk about what she dishes up when she gets home, after a day in the restaurant. The link will have her interview up this week (if all goes well). You’ll want to listen in!