The International Kitchen Blog: Interview with Chef Mark of our Provence Cooking Vacation
The leading provider of cooking vacations since 1994

Interview with Chef Mark of our Cuisine and Culture of Provence Cooking Vacation

Next April 13, 2015 Previous

Chef Mark, of our Cuisine and Culture of Provence cooking vacation, isn't just skilled in the kitchen. He also knows his way around the garden, as he's a USDA certified Master Gardener who has worked with schools, communities, war veterans, and private contractors to build gardens. His passion for organic and biodynamic food production also factors heavily into his delicious cuisine, as he believes, rightly so, that Provencal cuisine is the epitome of seasonally inspired food. Read more about Chef Mark's history with food in our latest chef interview.

Mark at work building a culinary garden1. When did you first start cooking? What's your first cooking memory?
I grew up in a large southern family, my Father from coastal South Carolina and my Mom from Virginia - and both sides, all of them were very competitive cooks & gardeners. When I was little, we would help harvest in the gardens at all the various uncles and aunts - and then stand on stools in the kitchens helping to shell, peel and prep for a big family supper.

2. Where (and from who) did you learn about cooking? 
First from my southern uncles, aunts, and mom, and then I got jobs in restaurants to make money growing up, and when I got the travel "bug" in high school & college, I could finance my travel & studies overseas by cooking in restaurants. I studied at national universities in Nepal, Colombia, & Italy, and was able was to finance my travels around Asia, South America, Europe (and the US) by cooking in restaurants. It didn't matter if I was a citizen, just as long as I could cook and learn what they wanted, and keep up with the work. 

Tarte dish3. What's your favorite ingredient or food to cook with? Favorite dish to make?
Its always hard to choose a favorite food or anything for me, there are so many wonderful ingredients in the world - and I'm still learning about new ingredients. But I do love fishing and fish, and a freshly caught fish, simply but perfectly cooked can't be beat. Or a beautifully made soup de poisson made with fresh, whole, small fish with a saffron rouille like they make around Marseille is near perfection, especially while looking at the Mediterranean with a glass crisp, cool rose. Or, standing in a spring garden eating freshly picked asparagus - in a day its a totally a different and transformed vegetable.

Garden vegetables4. What's the best piece of advice you'd give to someone just starting to cook? 
Don't be a slave to recipes, and don't be afraid to take chances or change things.  The hardest part of cooking is learning to taste. Find out what you like and build your taste palate and personal cooking style from there.

5. What do you hope people gain from your cooking vacation?
Joy and happiness, especially when they are able to cook for other people.

6. Anything else you'd like to share?
When I take people on a trips, I want them to feel that they have met people and been to places they wouldn't have known unless they had friends or family that lived there, special, heartfelt places that I adore and truly care about from my past, present, and into the future. 

During a Provence cooking vacation with Chef Mark, guests will partake in at least three hands-on cooking classes, explore local points of interest, including quintessential Provencal towns, and visit local producers, such as a lavender distillery.

By Liz Hall

Find more photos, food facts, and travel stories from The International Kitchen on Facebook, , Pinterest, and Twitter.

Other Chef Interviews
"Italian Cooking at Casa Ombuto": Chef Laura
"Flavors of the Real Italian Countryside": Chef Massimo
"Cooking in Andalusian Olive Country": Chef Clive
"Seaside Cooking in Portugal": Chef Fernando
"Taste of Bordeaux": Chef Barbara
"Colors of Burgundy": Chef Katherine
"Cook Under the Tuscan Sun": Chef Silvia
"A Cooking Passport to Provence": Chef Berard
"A Culinary Adventure in Umbria": Chef Flavio
"Mediterranean Cooking Experience": Chef Carmen
"A Classic Tuscan Table": Chef Claudio
"A Culinary Adventure at Le Calabash": Chefs Sidney and Alison
"Authentic Experience in Piedmont" : Chef Francesca
"Pastry Weeks at at Le Calabash": Chef Alison
"A Mexican Expedition in the Yucatan": Chef David
"Cook Under the Tuscan Sun": Chef Silvia
"Greek Gastronomy on Santorini": Chef Vassilis
"Taste of Peru: Chef Jose del Castillo
"Flavors of the Real Italian Countryside": Chef Massimo
"Discover Provence": Chef Gina
"Cooking in the French Alps (Part 1)"Chef Nikki
"Cooking in the French Alps (Part 2)"Chef Nikki
"Sapori d'Abruzzo"Chef Dino
"Insider's Venice: Chef Marika
"Relais & Chateaux and Michelin Star Cooking at Don Alfonso": Chef Alfonso
"Chateau Cooking in Bearn": Chef Laurent
"Authentic Abruzzo Cooking": Chef Marino
"A Culinary Adventure in Puglia": Chef Chiara

comments powered by Disqus


Filter archives: