As a young boy growing up on a small Pennsylvania farm, Mark watched as his mother prepared meals utilizing fresh vegetables, meats and wild game. His mother soon recognized his interest in cooking and starting letting him experiment even though he needed to stand on a chair to reach the kitchen stove.
As he matured he continued his interest in cooking. At age 16 he took his first restaurant job. Under the careful eye of Chef Claude Picard at the University Club and Chef Frederic Lange at the Seacatch Restaurant in Washington, D.C., Mark began to develop the skills that are the foundation of his culinary expertise today. Mark states, “Both of these French-born chefs have had a major influence on the types of cuisine that I create today”. He honed his skills as Executive Chef of Anton’s 1201 Club where he enamored many clients before moving to Charlotte, North Carolina, where he was immediately before coming to Highlands. Mark’s modesty keeps him from telling you about the honor bestowed upon him in Charlotte. He was nominated as the Best Chef in the Southeast by the prestigious James Beard Foundation in 2009. Some of you may recognize Mark from his numerous appearances on Fox News, WBTV, N.C. Weekend on WTVI or Time Warner Cable.
Since July 2010 Mark has been preparing tantalizing items for the clients of Oak Street Café here in Highlands. No matter which menu item you choose, rest assured that it will be prepared using only the freshest ingredients available. Mark likes to update the menu regularly to take advantage of what is currently in season, but sometimes that is hard. “People don’t like to see their favorite items taken off the menu. No matter the season, customers clamor for shrimp & grits or our signature mushroom bisque,” Mark intones.
In addition to long-time favorites like stuffed Trout Carolina (mountain trout stuffed with artichokes and spinach), Mark is introducing some world cuisine items to the menu. “You’ll want to try the Korean-style calamari-spicy-but’not-too-hot; but can be’”, Mark says. Another new offering is the Vietnamese Squid salad and the duck. Oak Street offers a wide range of wines to compliment your favorite appetizer or entrée. A choice that Mark finds especially pleasing is Belle Provençale Rose Cotes du Ventoux.
Oak Street’s Sunday Mimosa Brunch is a long-standing favorite. Be sure to get there early to beat the crowd. Mark’s training in French cuisine serves him well. Come enjoy a delicious meal in the quiet ambience of the café. You’ll love the updated look of the lounge and the large covered patio easily accessible without steps from Oak Street. You’ll want to enjoy dinner at Oak Street before attending the plays at the Highlands Playhouse this year. Open daily for lunch for 11:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.; dinner nightly beginning at 5:30 p.m. Call (828) 787-2200 for reservations. For more information go to www.oakstreetcafeinhighlands.com.