Behind the MC Hotel: Chef Amber, Hell’s Kitchen Contestant

Stationed in the heart of Montclair, The MC hotel is a game-changer. It boasts over 150 guest rooms designed with modern and cutting-edge concepts, a chic rooftop bar and lounge overlooking the Manhattan skyline, a food market stocked with locally-sourced produce, features locally-made artwork, and is making waves with its locally-driven restaurant, the Allegory. The hotel restaurant is under the charge of Chef Amber Lancaster, season 19 Hell’s Kitchen contestant, and Montclair implant. Read on to learn about the hotel and Chef Amber, the force of nature behind the popular restaurant.

The MC Hotel

chef amber the mc hotel montclair

{Photo credit: The MC Hotel}

The MC hotel is a chic hotel in the heart of Montclair complete with 159 guest rooms design with a mix of eclectic modern details. But, The MC Hotel is so much more than just that. The popular spot boasts over 8500 square feet of stylish meeting and event spaces, a rooftop bar and lounge called the Alto, which overlooks the iconic Manhattan skyline, a locally-driven restaurant, and a market in the lobby that features locally community artisans and makers.

chef-amber the mc hotel montclair

{Photo credit: The MC Hotel}

Even more impressive, the hotel showcases artwork from local creators throughout the halls. Not only do they aim to support the local artists, but to create an experience, an opportunity to spark conversation. Some might argue that the best feature of the hotel is the in-house restaurant located on the ground floor, Allegory, run by season 19 Hell’s Kitchen contestant Chef Amber who has brought a unique dining experience and elevated cuisine to the already-hot-spot.

Read More: A Guide to the Best BYOB Restaurants in Montclair

Meet Chef Amber 

chef ambert he mc hotel montclair

{Photo credit: The MC Hotel}

Chef Amber Lancaster has curated a must-try menu in a top-notch dining environment. The successful chef was a contestant on the current season of the hit-show Hell’s Kitchen hosted by celebrity chef Gordon Ramsey, and for good reason. Chef Amber focuses on community dining with a focus on “clean” cooking, including paleo, keto, and gluten-free options, sourcing local prudence from the Montclair Farmers market, particularly the Vacchiano Farmstand.

The cocktails and wine are not to be missed and offer locally-brewed brands. The private dining room offers an “off-the-menu” dining experience. Excellent dishes aren’t the only thing Chef Amber brought to the Allegory, her co-contestant on the show, Nicole, chose to work for Chef Amber to gain more experience and learn from her expertise {dynamic duo alert!}

chef amber the mc hotel montclair

{Photo credit: The MC Hotel}

We had an opportunity to meet Chef Amber and Nicole at the Allegory where they host a dinner during the weekly screening of Hell’s Kitchen. The duo graciously introduced themselves to every guest and answered questions about their experience competing for the approval of Ramsey, famously-known for his strict and tough-love approach to teaching. We had an opportunity to talk with Chef Amber about competing on the show, moving to Montclair from Chicago, and her vision for the Allegory.

The Montclair Girl: What was your earliest experience with cooking? 

Amber Lancaster: My earliest experience goes back to cooking in the kitchen with my mom. She was a very young, and single mother, so I was always trying to help her out by cooking the chicken, or helping her with any little thing that I could because I loved her so much and I saw how hard she was always working. She was big into the “crockpot” back in those days, so I was always excited about what I could help mom put together and put into the crockpot.

MG: When did you know you wanted to be a chef?

AL: I had the one magical, and defining moment in my life where I was lucky enough to figure that out when my uncle asked me if I had to do one thing for the rest of my life where money was no issue, what would it be? I simply replied, “Well, I guess I would cook,” and the rest is history.

MG: What was your overall experience of being on Hell’s Kitchen

AL: My overall experience in HK can be summed up into a mindset I have had from a previous mentor where the things in life that are the most unknown are potentially also the most rewarding in the end, I wanted to challenge and push myself, and to do something different and outside of the box, and HK was 1,000 percent that.

chef ambert he mc hotel montclair

{Photo credit: @lancastera}

MG: What was the most nerve-wracking experience during the show? 

AL: The most nerve-wracking experience about the show was cooking for the guest judges that came through. I cannot give out any spoilers at this point, but basically, some of the most special memories and moments I’ve had in my career involve the opportunity to cook for some of those once in a lifetime guest judges that I, myself, Amber Lancaster, had the opportunity to put my dishes in front of them to try. Mind-blowing.

MG: What was your favorite part about being on the show? 

AL: My favorite {and in a weird way my least favorite} part about being on the show was how every single day you wake up and you have no idea what is going to happen, what you’re going to experience, what challenges will come at you, what rewards, what punishments, and honestly I had these same intense nerves and a pit in my stomach every morning when I woke up from the natural commutative nature I have of wanting to push myself and do a good job and make all of my previous Chef’s and mentors proud.

chef amber the mc hotel montclair

{Photo credit: @lancastera}

MG: What did you learn from Chef Ramsey? 

AL: I’ve learned so many different things from Chef during my time on the show it’s hard to pick just one

MG: Why did you choose to work at the MC Hotel? 

AL: I choose to work at the MC Hotel because I saw a very unique opportunity here in this beautiful small town that is we are the only “boutique” hotel in town, and we have beautiful restaurants, and views. I felt like the sky was the limit here and that we could really think outside the box and try different things and shake things up for this local community.

chef amber the mc hotel montclair

{Photo credit: @lancastera}

MG: Why did you and Nicolle decide to work together post-show? 

AL: Nicole came to work for me after Hell’s Kitchen because she wanted the opportunity to learn from me, she wanted me to be her Chef, and she saw the value and opportunity in me giving her knowledge that she has yet to learn from her previous Chef’s, and from another female Chef it was that more exciting. Plus, we have a unique and special bond due to the show.

MG: What is your vision for the MC Hotel menu? 

AL: My vision in general for the MC Hotel menu is that of offering beautiful straightforward food {that comes from an eclectic background of Spanish, French and Italian}, but it is focusing on being gluten-free, keto-friendly, vegan, paleo. I really want to continue to support how to eat great food, but to nourish your body and for it to taste good.

MG: What’s your favorite thing about living in Montclair? 

AL: My favorite thing about living in Montclair is a secret surprise, you’ll have to come to the MC to find out from me in person.

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Written by:

Victoria is MG's Associate Editor and Social Media Coordinator for the Hoboken Historical Museum + Fire Department Museum. She is a born and bred Jersey girl with deep roots in Hoboken and Jersey City. When she’s not touring delicious restaurants and attending events in the Hudson/Essex area, she’s exploring everything the Concrete Jungle has to offer. You can catch her at art exhibitions, local festivities, traveling, diving into a new book, thrifting, or indulging in some form of arts and crafts.