Dr. Mark Vogel, Chef & Food Writer
I met Chef Vogel when he sent me an email about his food & drink column he writes for several newspapers. We got talking on the phone and soon learned of our mutual interest....food. I asked him to participate in my Novice to Pro section and he was glad to do it.
He sent me the following bio and his responses to my questions.
Chef Mark Vogels Bio
In 1986 Mark graduated with a BA in economics and a minor in psychology with plans to work in the business world. He did so for a year but found it boring and unstimulating. So he decided to go back to school to become a psychologist.
He then completed master's and doctorate degrees in clinical psychology. He had been working in mental health for over two decades. However, most of those years he also worked part time in various restaurants as a waiter, bartender or assistant manager. Something about the restaurant world has always lured him.
Mark always had a passion for food and wine. Long before he even conceived of pursuing a culinary career, he was watching the food network, buying cookbooks, taking local cooking classes, studying wine, and trying new recipes. Finally he decided to pursue it professionally.
Chef Vogel graduated from the Institute of Culinary Education in New York City with the goal of doing a combination of food writing and teaching. He worked for a while in an upscale Italian/Mediterranean restaurant to get some restaurant experience.
Currently he writes a food & wine column called "Food for Thought" which is published in a variety of newspapers and websites. He teaches cooking classes for Shoprite supermarkets in Wharton, NJ, (and) and for Morris Hills High School's Adult Education program in Rockaway, NJ. He also edit cookbooks for Battman Studios in NY.
Did you cook growing up?
Never. My mother wasn't much of a cook. Many of our meals were not made from scratch. Vegetables came from cans or were frozen and herbs and spices came from jars.
What made you decide you would become a professional cook?
Simply because I enjoy food, cooking, and wine so much.
Where were you trained and how difficult was your training?
I graduated from the Institute of Culinary Education in New York City. It wasn't terribly difficult because I had been teaching myself for a number of years. I was always reading cookbooks, trying new recipes and had taken a few amateur cooking classes. In all honesty, negotiating the teacher's personalities was more challenging than learning the culinary skills.
Would you do it again?
Best piece of advice you would give a home enthusiast?
Practice new recipes every week. Too many people fall into the rut of making what's familiar. Subscribe to cooking magazines and/or watch the Food Network and make dishes that you never made before. If it doesn't come out perfect, make it again and again until it does.
Best cooking tip for a novice?
Same as for the home enthusiast. Cooking, like most skills, is something that must be practiced. Cook as often as you can, always embracing new techniques or ingredients. Don't take shortcuts. Do everything from scratch. Supplement your practical skills by studying. Learn about food, particularly food science.
That's a tough one. So many tools are indispensable in the kitchen. I guess I'd have to give special mention to my food processor.
Funniest kitchen incident?
My very first job in the food business was as a waiter in a Mexican restaurant during college. One morning while prepping for lunch I inadvertently filled all the salt shakers with sugar. We didn't find out till countless lunchtime guests started sprinkling their food with sugar.
Favorite food to cook with?
That would have to be red meat. I'm an ardent carnivore.
When at home, what do you like to eat?
I like a wide variety of foods but if I really had to narrow it down, nothing beats a big juicy steak.
Thanks for the interview.
You can also mind some of Chef Mark's recipes at SeekingSources.com