Coordinator of Culinary Education and Chef-Instructor
Chef Marc received his professional chef training and attained his BEP at Lycée Hôtelier Paul Valéry in Menton, a small town in France and a short five minute walk from the Italian border. His culinary style is hugely influenced by the fresh, bright flavors of Nice, his hometown on the French Riviera. Grilled, stuffed sea bass is one of his favorite dishes to cook. After completing his training with Roger Verge and Jacques Maximin, Chef Marc went on to work all over Europe, Australia, South Africa and the United States. Chef Marc revels in the pressure of the kitchen and teaches his students to keep an open mind in school and throughout their careers. His favorite thing about working at ICC is the opportunity to keep learning and sharing knowledge with his students. Chef Marc joined the International Culinary Center in New York in 2006 and has since joined the Campbell, California campus.
ICC: Where did your interest in cooking come from?
Marc: My grandparents had a farm that was almost completely self-sufficient– animals, wine and liquor production, vegetables, nuts, grains, and olive oil. The only thing they were outsourcing was sugar and salt. My father was raised on that farm, so food had always been a part of his culture, and my mom– well, she was French– everyone eats well in France! For my brother and me, it was a logical path to study cooking. We were raised in a food-centric environment– we would milk the goats and cows, collect the eggs, and feed the pigs that my grandfather would kill to eat at Christmas. I always loved watching my grandmother make the bread from the wheat that we grew ourselves.
ICC: When did your formal culinary education begin?
Marc: I began trade school when I was sixteen and initially, I did a full year of mechanical engineering. Eventually, I switched my focus and entered culinary school. For two years I studied to earn a B.E.P at the Lycée Hôtelier Paul Valéry, a boarding school located in Menton (a small town that touches the Italian border) that had a restaurant on campus.
ICC: What did you do after completing culinary school?
Marc: When I finished there, I went on to my apprenticeship. I started at the bottom as a commis at a very traditional 5-Star Hotel called La Voile D’or located in Saint Jean Cap Ferrat. The restaurant was run in the traditional brigade style – everything was served on a platter – they call this Russian Service. I remained there for about three years. I worked hard to climb the ranks and when I left, I was the Demi Chef de Partie. After that apprenticeship ended, I worked in an Italian restaurant called l’Auberge de Theo.
ICC: What are some of your most notable job experiences?
Marc: By the time I was in my mid 20’s, I was running my first kitchen in Nice at a Mediterranean restaurant called l’Amphytrion. Later, I started working for, what was at the time, one of the biggest hospitality companies in the world: Sun International. I worked as personal chef for the CEO of this company and was given an unlimited budget to do whatever I wanted to please them. They took me everywhere– England, Italy, Spain, South Africa, etc.
ICC: Your curiosity took you away from France to Australia, where you studied “New World Cuisine.” What is “New World Cuisine” and how did it differ from your traditional training in French Cuisine?
Marc: NWC is basically a mish-mash of everything, combining all of the cuisines of the world into one. The most shocking difference from when I worked in France was the intense use of spices that didn’t exist in the European repertoire. The first time I tried ginger, it put me off. The palate in France is mostly familiar with parsley and salt and pepper.
ICC: Out of all of your travels, what place stood out the most to you?
Marc: It was Italy. I really like their food and they way they do things with flavors that are so nice and bright. The quality of the product also stands out; Italy is probably the precursor of the slow food movement. They followed the seasons and only used produce during their peaks.
ICC: How did you end up in the United States and what eventually led you to ICC?
Marc: I moved to New York because I was again curious and I wanted to experience the “American Challenge.” I began working as a personal chef, this time for a high-profile fashion designer. This gave me the opportunity to be exposed to New York high society. On the weekends, to stay on top of trends and keep my foot in the door of the restaurant world, I worked at one of the first farm-to-table restaurant concepts in the Brooklyn called Broadway Diner and Marlow & Sons. Balancing both jobs, I was working seven days a week.
I had come to a point where I wanted a more stable life. One day when I was walking around the city streets, I found the French Culinary Institute and stepped in to have lunch at the school’s restaurant. I was amazed at what was made by students. I took a business card home and that night I emailed my resume. I received a reply within the week and I began teaching at the New York campus in 2006. Later in 2012, I was offered the chance to teach at the California campus.
ICC: In your opinion, what are the differences between a private chef and a kitchen chef?
Marc: When you are a private or a personal chef you might be given an unlimited budget, but in the restaurant kitchen, you will always be restrained by your budget. The freedom of being a personal chef is nice but there is a catch: you will have to work very hard and do a lot of research on outsourcing to stay on top of creativity. In a restaurant, there are many people who share creative responsibility but as a personal chef, you are on your own. As much as people assume that being a personal chef is glamorous, it is very hard work. You need to be able to act quickly on your employer’s last minute decisions and requests. For example, your employer might call you and tell you that they’re planning a last minute party for 40 people. In these situations, you need to be very resourceful.
ICC: Curiosity seems to be a huge contributor to driving your career. How can curiosity improve the career of a chef?
Marc: There are some chefs out there who are closed minded and who swear by one thing that they think is the best. For me, you have to give everything a try. Curiosity can lead you to try something that others might never dare and you may end up discovering something that can work. For example, 20 years ago in France if you said, “let’s put a strawberry in a salad,” everyone would’ve laughed at you. But now, because someone dared to try it, we know it works! When people dare to take risks this makes food very interesting.
ICC: At graduation each year you often stay in your speeches, “classic never dies.” Can you explain what that means?
Marc: All of the food we know now has a base in classical cooking. The combination might change but the techniques are already established. Cooking methods were developed centuries ago. I believe that it is very important to master the foundational skills so that you can apply them later with your own interpretation.