Mark Tafoya, REMARKABLE PALATE personal chef service
Mark Tafoya is a New York City personal chef. A graduate of Yale University and a former Broadway actor, his love of travel and food has taken him around the world. DiningSmart were very pleased to have the opportunity to meet and interview Ma
Mark visited Almaty and gave master classes to Kazakh colleagues and young professionals, and certainly we could not miss the opportunity and attended the master class, met and talked to such a wonderful person and bright professional as Mark is.
Zhibek: Thank you a lot for accepting our invitation to be interviewed by DiningSmart. We are starting “Autograph from Chef de Cuisine” column which talks about best representatives of such an incredible profession as chefs, and we are very glad to have an opportunity having you as our first guest.Let me begin with a question which I guess is very common for you: why did you decide to change your career from being an actor on Broadway stages to becoming a professional chef?
Mark:The life of an actor can be difficult. I had been pursuing theater in New York for 10 years with varying degrees of success. I did several regional shows, and I spent a season with Tony Randall's National Actors Theater, doing 2 shows on Broadway with that company, but it was slow going. As a creative person, I found myself wanting more of an outlet for my creativity. I always loved to cook, but sort of fell into being a personal chef. A friend of mine had a summer house in Long Island, and asked me to come out for a summer to help him out, since he would host many guests. I found myself cooking very elaborated dinners in his amazing kitchen and loving it. Soon, the guests were suggesting that I open a restaurant, but I didn't want to do that. I was reading a food magazine one day looking for recipes, and I saw an advertisement for the United States Personal Chef Association. I called them, and the rest is history!
Zhibek: Who is the Personal Chef and what is the difference between the chef and Personal Chef, if any? Mark:A personal chef cooks for people in their homes, whereas a regular chef cooks in a restaurant. So I go to my clients' homes and cook many meals at once, storing gem in the refrigerator or freezer, and then they enjoy them throughout the week. I also do sit down dinner parties, cooking lessons, and cocktail parties, but all are cooked in the clients' homes.
Zhibek: For some reason I see that most chefs are men, even though there is a stereotype that cooking shall be women’s business only, at least in some traditional cultures. Do you cook at home and are you able to find the time to cook on your days off? Mark:In my house I do most of the cooking, because I just love to cook, even after a long day in the kitchen, but I tend to make much simpler food at home than what I do for my clients. I enjoy simple, healthy and relaxed foods at home.
Zhibek: Is there any modern kitchen gadget you couldn’t live without? Mark: I am not an aficionado of kitchen gadgets. I never buy any gadget that has only one use. If I can use it for many different things, I'll consider buying it. After all, I live in New York and space is at a premium! I just leave the standard chef knife, kept very very sharp! But another gadget I like is a microplane zester, which is good for taking the zest off lemons, but also for grating hard spices like nutmeg, or for grating Parmigiano cheese.
Zhibek: Do you cook healthy menu choices? And what is healthy dining in your opinion? Mark:For my own diet, I eat a hypoallergenic Paleo diet. I avoid grains, favoring healthy grass fed meats and wild caught fish, as well as organic vegetables. Most of the time I eat gluten-free and dairy-free. I eat many fermented foods, such as sauerkraut, pickles, kombucha, pickled beets, etc. they are very good for the digestive system and the immune system.
Zhibek: What are the core ingredients and main dishes of American food culture? Mark:American cuisine is widely varied, because we live in such a large country, geographically, with a diverse cultural mix of people. We are a country of immigrants, so we have people from every other country in the world. Especially in New York. Typical foods in America are pizza, pasta, barbecued meats, spicy southwestern foods like chile, and what others typically would expect, like hamburgers, hot dogs, fried chicken, corn on the cob, and breads.But in the last 20 years, the USA has rediscovered its love of local, sustainable ingredients and traditional foods. There are so many wonderful artisanal food products all over our country that it would be impossible to sum up our food in a short response!
Zhibek: Have you been in Kazakhstan before, and what was your first impression about Kazakh cuisine? Mark:I was in Kazakhstan last year, and I loved it! I'm so excited to be back and discover even more. I love beshbarmak, Kanina, lagman, manti, baursak, and even kumis!
Zhibek: Thank you a lot for taking your time and meeting with us. We wish you the health and more inspiration to realize the ideas.
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