Podcast Episode 83

A 25-Year-Old Culinary Prodigy’s Rise to Fame through Networking

Peter McQuaid | 30 Minutes | May 9, 2023

In today’s episode, we speak with our guest Peter McQuaid, 25-year-old Executive Chef of Cala, a Clive Collective restaurant in Scottsdale, as well as the James Beard Foundation’s Taste America Award recipient at the JBF Taste America Tour in Phoenix.

Referenced as a culinary “prodigy,” Peter shares how early career mentors such as Silvana Salcido Esparza at Barrio Café and Beau MacMillan at the Sanctuary have opened several doors for him. Through his relentless thirst to learn new skills and build connections, Peter chats about the steps he took after graduating from culinary school to claim an Executive Chef title. He also discusses his experience being a private chef for former UFC commentator Mike Goldberg, Alicia Keys, and the Arizona Cardinals’ A.Q. Shipley.

Listen as Peter McQuaid talks about how he started an Emulsion Popup restaurant series and why networking is important for up-and-coming chefs.

Watch the podcast episode:

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Notes & Transcript


Kirk Bachmann: Hi everyone, my name is Kirk Bachmann, and welcome back to The Ultimate Dish. Today, I’m speaking with one of the best seven up-and-coming chefs in Arizona, 25-year-old Chef Peter McQuaid. Today, he is the Executive Chef of Cala, a Clive Collective restaurant in the new Senna House Hotel in Scottsdale.

Prior to Cala, Chef McQuaid worked alongside several revered chefs in prestigious restaurants. I can’t wait to talk about Daniel Boulud and his 3-starred flagship restaurant, Restaurant Daniel. And Chef Beau MacMillan at The Sanctuary and Money, Baby!. Not to mention Chef Esparza, David Chang, and David Humm. What a resume!

But the resume doesn’t end just there. Chef McQuaid also created Emulsion Popups, a series of popup restaurants that received state-wide recognition. He’s also been the private chef for former UFC commentator Michael Goldberg, Alicia Keys, and the Arizona Cardinals’ A.Q. Shipley.

Along with being featured in Phoenix Magazine, Chef McQuaid was the recipient of the prestigious James Beard Foundation’s Taste America Award at the JBF Taste America tour in Phoenix. He’s also a Chef Works Ambassador.

Join me today as we speak with Chef McQuaid about the mentors who shaped his career, what it takes to achieve success early on, and the current social environment for chefs today.

And there he is! Good morning, and welcome, Chef.

Peter McQuaid: Good morning. Thank you.

Kirk Bachmann: I’ve got to tell you. I’m out of breath. Can you tell? What a resume?

Peter McQuaid: Thank you so much.

Kirk Bachmann: I don’t want to put numbers on it, but 25 years old! Where do you find the time? I can’t wait to dive in. Unbelievable.

But first and foremost, let’s set the stage. It looks like you’re in a beautiful office there. You’re in Scottsdale. What’s the weather doing? How are you doing?

Peter McQuaid: The weather’s beautiful, and I’m doing amazing sitting in my amazing restaurant right now. I couldn’t be happier.

Everybody Loves Beau Mac

Kirk Bachmann: I love it. I love it. Can we talk a minute about Beau MacMillan who was on the show a little bit ago. He’s referred to you as a prodigy. You’ve launched a couple successful restaurants together. Let’s talk about Cala first, right there where you are today in Scottsdale. Take some time to share some love for what it’s like to partner with Beau and to grow the way you have.

Peter McQuaid: Absolutely. I’m sitting in Cala right now, which is our new Mediterranean restaurant. We actually just passed our one-year anniversary last week. We’re super excited. We’re super proud of the team we created here. Our ever-evolving menu is just getting better and better. It’s really cool to see it all come into fruition.

Working with Beau Mac, obviously, that everybody knows and loves. I started working with him when I was 16 years old as a prep cook at Sanctuary. Then to see it all come full circle, to be opening up restaurants side-by-side with him is just a dream come true. I didn’t think this early in my career I would reach that. But it came, and I’m super excited about the future. It’s going amazing.

Kirk Bachmann: I love it. You’re embracing it. What’s it like? I’ve met him a few times. He’s larger than life. The nicest gentleman in the world. Does tons of things for other people. But you probably don’t want to let him down, either. Does that put a little bit more pressure on you?

Peter McQuaid: Absolutely, of course. He was a mentor for me at Sanctuary, and even now. One of the biggest inspirations as a chef in my life. Has taught me a lot along the way. The step we’re in now, I want to make him proud, but he also is very great at sharing those successes with his team. That’s what makes it all worth it and what makes building this restaurant the fun of it.

Kirk Bachmann: I’m curious. Obviously, mentorship is super important and is something that Beau’s really good at, Beau Mac. Could you speak a little bit in general terms, how important you believe mentorship is? Turning the table. You probably already are a mentor for other young culinary professionals.

Peter McQuaid: Absolutely. As a chef, obviously food is so important and something we love. Even for me, mentorship is where I see a lot of joy in being a chef. Seeing the guys that look up to you, that want to be you, that want to learn from you, that’s huge.

There’s a long list of amazing chefs that came from under Beau at the Sanctuary: Stephanie Izard, Danny Grant, Maple & Ash in Chicago, and Scottsdale. There’s just a long list. It’s talking to chefs in Scottsdale and seeing how many people really did start there, and start with Beau Mac. He was there for 23 years. That’s a real testament to a chef’s career, to see all those people that grew up under you and are now doing incredible things.

Kirk Bachmann: Staying on that topic, has it been difficult or very natural to find your own style? All those chefs you named, all influenced by Beau Mac in some way, shape or form: how difficult is it for you to just find Peter’s way, even if it’s a little different from what Beau Mac has been preaching for a while?

Peter McQuaid: Absolutely. One of the great things I love about Beau is he always has let me run the show, in a sense, and has always been there every step of the way to help and to mentor, but has never stepped on my toes or anything like that. He’s been very amazing in letting me take the reins. If I need help or if I’m doing something that should be done differently, then he can step in and coach along the way, but has really let me be my own person and chef in this restaurant.

Spanish Project Leads to Culinary Discovery

Kirk Bachmann: I love that. As a great mentor would do.

Let’s talk a little bit more about you and try to follow your passion a little bit. Going all the way back to the beginning. I’m always so intrigued to learn more about when and where chefs first discovered their passion. Was there that moment? Gosh, you’re still only 25 years old, but was there that moment? Was it when you were 16? Where you were like, “This is it! This is what I’m going to do. I love this craft, and I’m going to be in this career for a very long time.”

Peter McQuaid: There was. Believe it or not, it’s a funny story. I was never really good in high school. I went to a prep school here in Tempe, Arizona and was never a great student, to be honest. I just didn’t really have any interest in anything – any classes I had – and didn’t really have the passion or drive for school. I was taking Spanish, which was my worst class. I was probably failing it, but I had to do a Spanish project. The teacher said, “You can do whatever you want on the project as long as it somehow relates to Hispanic culture, the language, whatever. Do whatever you want to do.”

So I was like, “Okay, cool. I’m going to do food.” I like food. I always loved being in the kitchen on holidays with my family. Why not? That’s something that interests me.

So I googled, “best Mexican chef in Arizona.” Chef Silvana Salcido Esparza came up everywhere, who owns Barrio Cafe here, and who is nationally recognized for her restaurant here in Arizona. I shot her a message on Instagram. “Hey, I’m doing a Spanish project. Would love to come down to the restaurant and maybe cook with you or film something and do a whole project on the food and the culture you bring through cooking as a chef.”

I probably messaged her 20 times before she got back to me, but she finally was like, “Alright. Come down to the restaurant Thursday, 10 a.m.” I went down there with my mom, who recorded everything. We made her famous guacamole with pomegranate seeds. Then we went into the kitchen and made her chicken and poblano dish that was incredible. Being there, I thought, “Wow! This is really cool. I think this is something I’d want to do.”

At the end, she said, “I’m opening a restaurant next week. If you want a job, you can come down and wash dishes or prep or whatever.” I said, “Okay.” And just started working for her the next weekend. Then the rest is history. I haven’t stopped since then.

Kirk Bachmann: That’s a great story. Do you still connect a little bit now and again?

Peter McQuaid: I do. Absolutely.

Kirk Bachmann: I love that. What about that cuisine? I know that Cala is Mediterranean by nature, but those early influences from her cooking, is that still part of your repertoire?

Peter McQuaid: Absolutely. I take stuff from every chef I’ve ever worked for and everywhere I’ve experienced. I worked for her, and she’s the one that got me involved in the C-CAP program, which I then got my scholarship. She’s the one that told me to reach out to Beau Mac, because he had the amazing restaurant at Sanctuary and that might be something I’m interested in. She really, still to this day, pushed me in those opportunities that led to so many big things. It’s one of the biggest things I look back on.

The Influence of C-CAP

Kirk Bachmann: I love that. Talking about education, which is so important. You mentioned C-CAP. I’m going to give you a chance to share a little bit more love. C-CAP’s Careers through Culinary Arts Program started by Richard Grausman and his wife years and years and years ago. Just a tremendous organization that provides scholarships and paths and journeys for so many young culinary professionals throughout the United States.

What happened that you got connected with them? Was that through your experience with the restaurant there, or was that through high school, or post-high school?

Peter McQuaid: I went to a prep school which actually didn’t have a culinary program or anything like that. I found out about it through Chef Silvana who was like, “There’s this program. I’m not really sure what you can do with it, but you should get involved or at least start a conversation.”

So I started a conversation. Loved what they were doing. I desperately wanted to be involved in the program to learn and the opportunity to compete for a scholarship. I actually hosted a dinner where I had 20 big chefs here in the valley, and I sold tickets to it. I raised the money and integrated my school in the C-CAP program so I could compete because we were already set up in their portfolio of high schools.

Kirk Bachmann: That’s amazing. Is it something you’re still involved with in trying to help others?

Peter McQuaid: Yeah. I love C-CAP. I’m always involved in their events, their fundraisers, every year. One of my pastry cooks right now is in their mentorship program here at Cala, through C-CAP and getting a lot of benefits out of that. I’m always involved. It’s one of the biggest things that brings a lot of joy to me as a chef to see these young culinarians grow up the same way I did.

Kirk Bachmann: My experience with that particular organization, the piece that’s so rewarding is it’s not just the individual cook or chef. Typically it changes the lives of their entire family when somebody has the opportunity to go to school. Absolutely love that.

Let’s talk about your path over the last few years. I want to dive into a lot of this. You’ve got a great personality, a big personality.

Peter McQuaid: Thank you.

Arizona and the Team

Kirk Bachmann: We’ve talked with Beau Mac and Lee Hillson and James Porter. What is it about this group of dynamic, big personalities in the state of Arizona?! It’s absolutely spectacular to see a group of like-minded, personable, dynamic, successful chefs. What’s the secret? And is it an exclusive club? Are you guys really careful about who you let in?

Peter McQuaid: Arizona is so cool. We have such a great growing food scene and a lot of incredible, amazing chefs here. But the thing I love about Arizona is I don’t feel any sort of ego or competition or anything like that that you might find in big cities with chefs. Here, we all have one common denominator: to put out amazing food and put Arizona on the map as a culinary destination. The only way we do that is working together. We all have such a great dynamic of chefs here in Arizona like a small little family community. That’s really what I love about it.

Kirk Bachmann: Do you dine in each other’s restaurants when you have a chance?

Peter McQuaid: Of course! Absolutely.

Kirk Bachmann: The fact that you’re so young and have found so much success is really something to celebrate and be so proud of. Not to put you on the spot, but what does it feel like to be the executive chef? What’s your day like when you’re in the restaurant? You’re with me now, but what’s the rest of the day look like for you?

Peter McQuaid: I have an amazing team being me and I’ve put a lot of effort in growing my culinary team to be super strong. As far as the day, running the back of the house operations of this restaurant is incredible, especially at my age. It’s a dream come true for me. Seeing all my sous chefs doing the amazing work they do, from my prep cooks to my stewards and seeing everybody on the same page is really incredible.

I love to get back there and cook. Last night, we had a little party and I was behind the line making sure everything looked nice. I love to be hands-on with my food, too. It’s really incredible to see that. But I couldn’t do it without the amazing team we have back there. That’s what brings me the most pride and joy right now in my career, for sure.

Kirk Bachmann: I love that you went right to the team. The humility is amazing. Do you pinch yourself sometimes?

Peter McQuaid: Sometimes I do. Yeah. You’re nothing without your squad, Beau always says. Chefs can make amazing food. You can serve amazing cocktails at the restaurant, but if you don’t have a good team behind you, then you’re never going to be successful, in my opinion.

Just Survive Another Day

Kirk Bachmann: With such great mentors, especially Beau Mac – I’m sure he was able to help overcome certain obstacles. We’ll have several, young, aspiring culinarians that’ll listen to the show, and they’ll be like, “Wow! How did he do that?” Did you ever feel that there was a roadblock that was going to prevent you from achieving your dreams? Was there any self-doubt ever? “Can I really do this?” If there was, how do you overcome that, even today?

Peter McQuaid: For me, looking back at culinary school and when I was in New York City and working at Daniel’s, that was a very tough kitchen. To be honest, there was never a doubt in my mind that I couldn’t do it or that I couldn’t survive another day. That’s what always kept me going. I really just put my head down and grinded [sic] and worked at some amazing, amazing places. Even when days got tough, the best thing about this industry is you can just wake up and start fresh again the next day. That’s always what I’ve kept in my mind.

Kirk Bachmann: Sounds like you had a lot of family support as well.

Peter McQuaid: I did. I have amazing family support that was there for me. They’d come to the restaurant every single week to support. Seeing that keeps me going. I think if you put down, you grind, you put your head to something…I’ve never really looked up. That’s what I think is important.

The Total Cala Experience

Kirk Bachmann: That’s great advice. Great advice.

Coming back to Cala a little bit, I was browsing the site a little bit yesterday and prior. Absolutely stunning. You feel like you’re being whisked away into this Mediterranean coastline. It reads on the site, “Reminiscent of the beautiful seaside restaurants along the coast, Cala provides a spacious, high-energy atmosphere for endless celebration throughout the day and night. Cala puts the farmer’s, fisherman’s ingredients at the forefront and blends them with a Mediterranean palate.” It’s absolutely beautiful. You’ve covered everything: the farmer, the fisherman, the ingredients, the people. It just sets the tone. How did this concept come to fruition initially with you and Beau Mac. Any challenges trying to get people to buy into this in Arizona?

Peter McQuaid: Absolutely. When we first started this restaurant, our partners in the group are with Clive Collective. They are masterminds in high energy and basically the vibe of a restaurant. That was really important for us to pair with Beau Mac and I, the food, and the more fine dining atmosphere we have also. Right when you walk into Cala, we want you to feel like you’re on vacation in the Mediterranean, or something. We have hanging plants everywhere, a lot of cool decorations that really make you feel like that. All our windows open up, so it’s almost an indoor/outdoor space, which is really cool. On the weekends, we have a DJ that plays fun music to match the vibe. It’s really not only a dining destination, but an amazing place where you just have this feeling, “Where the hell am I right now?” Which is really what we wanted to try to create.

Kirk Bachmann: Are you bringing some talent in from other parts of the country that are like, “Hey, I want to get to Arizona. I’ve got to work with these guys”?

Peter McQuaid: I think so, too. We see a lot of out-of-towners come in. We see a lot of people come through that just want to be a part of it and want to be a part of the mission and everything we’re doing.

Kirk Bachmann: Is there anything in particular – I’m digging into your secrets right here – the inspiration behind the menu? I’m sure a lot of R&D goes into that, a lot of conversations, a lot of testing. I’m sure that’s ongoing. Are there some signature dishes that really reflect Peter and the way you want to be cooking today and that you want people to take away when they walk out of that restaurant? “Hey, that was Chef Peter right there.”

Peter McQuaid: Yeah. We just changed our menu a couple months ago, and one of my favorite dishes on it is a Moroccan braised chicken we have on the menu. It was something I R&D’d for a couple weeks. I finally got to a point. It’s almost like this braised chicken stew with apricots and olives and sesame seeds and pomegranate seeds and cilantro. It’s just got so many great Mediterranean flavors, and you eat it. It’s kind of unexpected. We’ve got a braised chicken thigh, a braised chicken breast with amazing stew on top, some roasted potatoes. Very hearty, but it’s got so much flavor and depth. It makes you feel good, in my opinion, and that’s the food I like to cook. I want people to eat that dish and be like, “Wow! I feel like I had a really amazing experience, and I just feel good after eating that.”

Kirk Bachmann: I love that.

I’ve been asking a lot because it seems to be really popular now, the whole mixology, the full experience. The guest comes in. We’ve already talked about how they feel when they come in. The windows are open. Then this menu that is just vibrant. How does the beverage program flow into that? Maybe even the back end, desserts. What kind of thought goes into all that? You’re giving tons of secrets away here, Peter.

Peter McQuaid: It’s awesome. Beverage, the same thing. We wanted to go with bright Mediterranean flavors and just have some, cool cocktails that are on the menu. We have an amazing wine list as well that has wines from Italy, Greece, and Spain that also reflect those flavors in our menu. The same thing with the cocktail program, too. We wanted light, refreshing drinks that someone would want to drink and want to feel like they’re on a beach somewhere or sitting seaside and having a nice time.

Same with our desserts. I have an amazing pastry chef that changes her dessert menu a lot and gets creative and really has fun with it.

The Struggle for Staff

Kirk Bachmann: I love it. I’m going to jump a little bit to the social environment and the whole idea of giving back, which I’m so appreciative of. Aside from everything on your plate and how you’re thinking about your career today and your career into the future, you’re an ambassador for Chef Works. For our audience, Chef Works is a really big chef uniform company. Great company. I’ve read that through this partnership you’re hoping, and I quote, “To shed the light on how the industry can creatively tackle staffing problems in the post-pandemic world.” Can you elaborate a little bit on this and what kind of steps you’re taking, collaboratively, to make that happen?

Peter McQuaid: Absolutely. It’s tough seeing. I talk to chefs all over the valley that struggle with staffing. It’s something I think we’re all still dealing with and trying to figure out. Thankfully, I’ve been very fortunate and had a great staff in my kitchen, but I do see how tough it can be for a lot of restaurants. We’ve seen restaurants close because they don’t have staff. That’s just so sad to me, that it could come to a point like that. I think we all need to get creative.

Obviously, C-CAP’s a big part of that. They’re doing a lot to put culinary students in restaurants to help and provide that. I think there are a lot of amazing programs out there. I think sometimes chefs need to be more proactive and reach out to those programs to get creative with their staffing.

Kirk Bachmann: Do you allow folks to come in – it’s kind of old school – but the whole idea of staging?

Peter McQuaid: Yeah, of course.

Kirk Bachmann: To see what it’s like. Yeah.

Peter McQuaid: When I was in New York City, Daniel was closed on Sundays. Every Sunday, I would go out and knock on the back door of Eleven Madison Park or Per Se or Jean-Georges or whatever it was. I would just be like, “I just want to work for the day,” or “I just want to look at the kitchen for two hours, or whatever you want to let me do.” 99 percent of the time they would throw you a chef’s knife and give you a little project to work on and let you hang out in the back. I got to see so many incredible kitchens and meet so many incredible people.

It has really shaped my career, so I encourage people to do that any chance they get.

Chefs that Shaped

Kirk Bachmann: Did you work with Chef Humm pre- or post-plant-based, when the whole menu flipped over to plant-based?

Peter McQuaid: Before. I did an internship there.

Kirk Bachmann: Oh my goodness! What was that like?

Peter McQuaid: It was so cool. It was awesome. Amazing. The next year I went and took my girlfriend to dine there, which was incredible. It was just a really cool experience.

Kirk Bachmann: Yeah. What year was that, Peter? I’m trying to connect it with when that restaurant was the best restaurant in the world.

Peter McQuaid: It was 2017, probably.

Kirk Bachmann: So right around there. Yeah.

What about David Chang? What’s that like?

Peter McQuaid: I did an internship at Momofuku, which was really cool, in New York City. That was completely different from Eleven Madison Park. The cooking styles and the style they had with their team, but it was so cool. The end of the day, they sat me down at the bar and fed me the whole tasting menu. It was incredible, especially as a young culinary student, to see some of the fun flavors they had. I still remember a couple specific dishes that I had there. When people can look back on a meal and remember nuances of a dish, that’s when you know it really made an impact to you. That’s one of the meals that did for me.

Kirk Bachmann: 100 percent. Have some of those experiences stayed with you and helped define your cooking style today in Arizona?

Peter McQuaid: Absolutely. As a chef, and especially as a young culinary student, you kind of soak in everything you see and everything you eat. It’s important to work and go to school, but it’s also important to just go out and eat and try new flavors. That’s where you see, “Wow! That’s really cool. I want to try that.” That’s how you can build your repertoire, by not only working, but tasting other chefs’ foods, which I thought was super important.

Personal Brand and Promotion

Kirk Bachmann: To come back a little bit: all these experiences, and back to you. We were talking a little bit about your partnership with Chef Works. Speaking of partnerships, how important is it today for chefs to form brand partnerships? My biggest question is, how do you balance that brand – Cala – and put it up against your brand – Peter McQuaid? Is there a fine line? Can it be the same? Is it different? Do you have to be careful?

Peter McQuaid: Not that I have to be careful or anything. With my brand and with what I’m doing, I’m still very young, but trying to build that. Chef Works has helped me with that. I do a lot of private dinners, private cooking. I have done a lot of stuff in the past, building my name and through my brand. But I also want to build mine to promote Cala. It goes hand in hand, and they also promote me. I go on the news all the time for Cala, which I love doing. I love promoting, obviously, but it also is helping to build my name as Peter McQuaid, too, which is huge. I think they really go hand-in-hand together.

Kirk Bachmann: Absolutely. Well said.

On the same note, I’ve been on your Insta and such. Today, where social media is such a big part of what we all do, every day, should chefs focus on content creation and keep a digital and social media presence? Do you think it is important? Has that helped shape your success – Instagram, TikTok, all of that?

Peter McQuaid: Definitely. It was never a goal for me and never something I really wanted to do. I’ve always just wanted to share my story and my food with others on social media, which is important. It’s giving me a lot of opportunities, just like the Chef Works partnership, to get my name out there and so people see what we’re doing here at Cala, and what I’m doing in my personal life.

Do I think everybody has to do it? No. I think you can create your own path. I know a lot of chefs that don’t even have an Instagram that have an incredible restaurant and are cooking amazing food. I think it’s kind of what you want to do personally. Do I think it’s necessary? No. Did it help me? Yes. But I don’t think it is a deciding factor even nowadays.


Kirk Bachmann: What are some of the things, Chef, that bring you inspiration? Tomorrow, listen, I want to do something super, super cool. Where do you go? Is it a call to Beau? Is it over to another friend? Do you jump on social media? Do you dive into cookbooks? Where’s the inspiration come from?

Peter McQuaid: Cookbooks. I have a big collection of cookbooks I used to read all the time. Just like we were talking about, social media. On Instagram, it’s funny: you can scroll through and have access to every restaurant in the world, pretty much, to see their food and a lot of chefs, to see their food. That’s where a lot of inspiration comes from, too.

Also, Beau’s taken me on a lot of trips and to food and wine festivals to meet other fellow chefs. That’s where I found a lot of inspiration. Cooking side-by-side with these people at those events and seeing the food that they’re doing, and eating the food that they’re doing really gets your mind jogging with what you want to do back home in your restaurant.

Kirk Bachmann: I love that. I also love to get off the script a little bit. You’re in that restaurant a good portion of every day. What does Peter like to do for Peter? Do you like to travel? Are you a music guy? Motorcycles? Oftentimes, chefs are all of the above, by the way.

Peter McQuaid: No motorcycles. No motorcycles for me. Who knows. I love to travel. I love to eat, of course, taste new foods. I have an amazing girlfriend at home, Brittany, and we have a little dog. She’s in the industry, too, which is incredible. We have the same common goal and mindset, which is great, in our relationship. When we do have time together, we love to explore new places, which is huge. Traveling is up there for sure. Just trying to see the world.

Kirk Bachmann: Love it. Anything that you can share, secrets of what’s up next?

Peter McQuaid: What’s up next? We’ve got a couple things in the works here in Arizona, nothing set in stone yet. I think the end of this year, we might see a couple things popping up, which I’m really excited about.

Kirk Bachmann: I love that. Very politically correct answer. I love that. I love that. Keep us guessing.

Peter McQuaid: Exactly.

Chef Peter McQuaid’s Ultimate Dish

Kirk Bachmann: Really great chat. So appreciative of your time. Congratulations on all the success.

Before I let you go, Chef, the name of the podcast is The Ultimate Dish. You started to mention it a little bit earlier. You’ve got a lot on your mind. In your mind, today, what is the ultimate dish?

Peter McQuaid: The ultimate dish. At our restaurant, or in general?

Kirk Bachmann: Both.

Peter McQuaid: Both. There you go.

Kirk Bachmann: It’s always the toughest question. You cook all day long.

Peter McQuaid: That is the toughest question.

Kirk Bachmann: Is there a memory that comes to mind?

Peter McQuaid: There’s a couple memories that come to mind. When I was in culinary school – sorry, before I was in culinary school, my mom took me to New York City when, believe it or not, Gordon Ramsay had a restaurant at the London Hotel. I was a huge fan. I remember the duck dish to a T. I can picture exactly what it looked like. I can picture exactly how it was plated and what it had on it. That was another factor. When I ate that dish, I was like, “I think I could do this.” I could enjoy that. When I look back, one of the dishes that really set my career off in a sense.

Kirk Bachmann: I love that. So oftentimes, it is a memory that takes you to a certain place and time. Great response. I appreciate that.

Chef, thank you so much for spending some time with us today. Wish you continued great success. Next time you see Beau Mac, give him my best.

Peter McQuaid: I will, of course. Thank you.

Kirk Bachmann: You bet.

And thank you for listening to the Ultimate Dish podcast, brought to you by Auguste Escoffier School of Culinary Arts. Visit escoffier.edu/podcast, where you’ll find any materials mentioned during the podcast, including notes, links and other resources. You can also browse other episodes and subscribe.

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