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March 8, 2018
Rooftop Views And Toasting With Friends. Discover Altana.
“I didn’t think I’d ever get into anything culinary. When I left my factory job, I thought ‘I just need a job.’ But then it all just kind of happened.”
Chef Randolph Oliveras Jr., at Altana, didn’t ever consider going into the culinary arts. Something, he says, that he should have known was probably going to happen anyway.
“My whole family cooks,” said Randolph. “So I guess it was just inevitable for me to end up doing it too.”
After taking an elevator up to Altana at 26 East King Street, I sat with Chef Randolph at the chic bar stretching across the open lounge. The area at Altana is sleek, modern, and relaxed—and it also boasts a beautiful open air rooftop section during warmer weather.
“I’ve learned so much coming to Altana,” said Randolph. “They give me the opportunity to do what I want, mess around with ingredients, create different things. I get to really branch out and do more.”
But like he noted before, cooking wasn’t always in his sights. Just 5 years ago, his career looked very different.
After losing his job at a local factory, Randolph searched for a new opportunity. A connection at the Belvedere Inn told him about a dishwashing job that was open. And he took it immediately.
“I needed anything, and I was happy to have this opportunity.”
During his time there, he wasn’t just washing the dishes—he was watching them too. He took note of every ingredient that went into different creations, each flavor combination that happened in the kitchen. He studied the food offered, and also had the chance—in his free time—to experiment with his own cooking ideas.
“I learned so much from Corina at the Belvedere,” added Randolph. “I was just watching, looking—that’s how I started doing the things I am. I would be dishwashing and always watching.”
Then, when a position opened up making salads, he jumped at the opportunity. One thing led to the next and he climbed his way through sauté chef, grill, and everything else.
"It's all an experience every day, and it's still going. My experience has just begun."
Randolph, a loyal and die-hard Philadelphia Eagles fan, has been in Lancaster his whole life.
“Lancaster is crazy compared to what it was 15 years ago,” Randolph said. “There are so many different things in the City—so many options for food. Before, it seemed like it was just all pizza shops. Now, there is a little something of everything.”
As Lancaster grew, so did his experience. And as he builds his career, he’s proud to continue his family’s tradition of impacting Lancaster City with delicious culinary creations.
“My grandma used to cook—her and my grandfather used to cook for all of the baseball games on Sundays,” said Randolph. “Their Spanish food was renowned around Lancaster for a long time.”
Randolph knew from experience that their food was astounding.
“I used to pretend to help them cook at the Puerto Rican festival—but really I’d just eat all of the coconut ice cream,” he said, laughing.
We were excited to see his culinary craft in action while at Altana. Randolph chose to make us his special Corona Beer-battered Fish Tacos.
“These tacos are very popular,” said Randolph. “And we will be getting ready to offer some great taco options all summer long.”
Who wouldn’t want a margarita and a few tacos on the breezy rooftop on a Saturday? Sign us up!
“It really pairs well together.”
Altana is known for the unique, modern, and relaxing atmosphere—with the rooftop providing guests with a beautiful view of the Lancaster skyline.
From these fish tacos, to entrees such as White Wine Skillet Roast Chicken, Altana has a variety of options for dinner or to share.
Start with one of their small plates like Ahi Tuna Nachos or Buffalo Chicken Dip, or browse their delicious offering of soups and salads (we love the Apple Cranberry Walnut Salad!). Explore their many sandwiches, naan bread pizzas, and pastas.
The flavors are varied and fresh—something Randolph tries to create with each dish.
“I just like everything, all flavors,” said Randolph. “I love looking at things online, looking at what people do differently. I like to review staple recipes and see how I can do something different with them.”
“I love eating,” added Randolph, smiling. “It’s hard to pick what my favorite food is—I’ll try almost anything.”
The fresh cod was deep fried in an incredible Corona Beer batter before being tucked into a grilled tortilla. Randolph added fresh slaw on top, along with a sauce that is similar to tartar sauce—but with a twist.
“I didn’t want to use just plain tartar sauce—it needed to be different,” said Randolph.
Karlo, Fig Photographer, Deb, Creative Director & Owner of Fig, and I, each had our own taco—and they looked amazing. We couldn’t wait to taste them!
The taco was a delightful balance of crispy fish with fresh, crisp slaw flavor folded into a grilled tortilla—an amazing touch! The sauce was also phenomenal. I finished mine in close to two seconds—not something I’d recommend doing, but I couldn’t help it!
“We’re also creating a variety of new tacos for the summer season,” said Randolph. “I am creating a vegan option right now—I am still experimenting with it.”
Whether you try their tacos, go out for a fun evening celebration, or want to share some great apps with friends, Altana—backed by the expertise of Chef Randolph—is a great spot to choose.
“I love cooking—and you have to love it. You’ve got to fully go into it, or not at all,” added Randolph. “It’s all an experience every day, and it’s still going. My experience has just begun.”