Mark Strausman The Opt Out Chef

MARK STRAUSMAN is a native New Yorker who grew up in a Queens housing project and has risen to become one of the best-known Italian chefs in the country. He received a degree in 1982 in Hotel and Restaurant Management from New York City Technical College. After graduation Mark took an externship for three months in a 5-star hotel in Frankfurt, Germany. He parlayed those three months into a four-year odyssey, working in several top European restaurants and learning the art of classical cooking, before returning to New York in 1986.
Although in Europe he worked in formal, French-style kitchens, Mark strongly felt the lure of country cooking. In 1988, he partnered with Pino Luongo, and together they opened the ground-breaking Sapore di Mare in East Hampton, New York, and Coco Pazzo on Manhattan’s Upper East Side, which The New York Times awarded three stars. In 1994, Mark opened his own restaurant in the Flatiron district, Campagna, which was dubbed “media central” by New York magazine.
Since 1994, when he developed Fred’s, the high-profile restaurant in Barneys New York Madison Avenue flagship store, he has developed and run off-shoots of that restaurant in Scottsdale, Chicago, and Dallas.
In October 2011 Strausman returned to his love of country cooking by opening Agriturismo, a restaurant in the countryside close to New York City (Pine Plains, NY). Agriturismo features Mark’s rustic cooking using almost exclusively foods from the nearby farms of the Hudson Valley, and its unique focus has helped it become a popular dining destination.
He is an in-demand consultant for restaurants all over the United States, from Cape Cod to the Northwest. He has worked extensively for Wegmans Corporation and was the creative consultant for their “Italian Classics” line. He also helped develop prepared foods and recipes for their deli counter and trained their staff in Italian food and lifestyle.
Mark is the author of two cookbooks, both of which have received starred reviews in Publishers Weekly. His first, The Campagna Table, was published by William Morrow in 1999. In addition to Publishers Weekly, it also received a starred review in Booklist. His second book, Two Meatballs in the Italian Kitchen, co-authored with Pino Luongo, is in its second printing. It received a James Beard Award nomination in 2008.
Mark has a wealth of television experience. He was a regular guest on the original Martha Stewart Living since its inception. He has logged guest appearances on Late Show with David Letterman, Late Night with Conan O’Brien, CNN, The Today Show, The CBS Early Show, and numerous programs on The Food Network, as well as many others.