Chef Mark Peel, Who Appeared on ‘Top Chef Masters’, Dies at 66

Mark Peel Los Angeles Food & Wine at LA Live
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Longtime Los Angeles chef and restaurateur Mark Peel passed away Sunday at age 66. He had been diagnosed with an aggressive form of cancer just nine days ago, his daughter told the Los Angeles Times.

In 1989, Peel co-founded the Campanile restaurant in Los Angles with his ex-wife Nancy Silverton and wine expert Manfred Krankl. A popular hangout for Hollywood lunch meetings, Campanile won the James Beard Foundation award for Outstanding Restaurant in 2001. It closed in 2012 after losing its lease.

Peel is perhaps best known to TV audiences for his two appearances on Top Chef Masters, as well as being a Top Chef judge in 2009 and 2010. He also featured in episodes of Hell’s Kitchen, Knife Fight, Kitchen Nightmares and demonstrated food preparations on various shows on the Food Network and Hallmark Network.

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“It is hard to overstate Campanile’s contributions to American cooking,” food critic Jonathan Gold once wrote. “It wasn’t the first fine restaurant in the country to operate with a grill at its heart, but it codified the style, as well as the practice of reinterpreting simple dishes — steak and beans, Greek salad, fish soup — with first-rate ingredients and chefly virtuosity.”

Peel began his career in 1975 as an apprentice under Wolfgang Puck at Ma Maison. He later did stints in France at the likes of La Tour d’Argent, Potel et Chabot, and Moulin de Mougins, before returning to California to become a sous chef, first under Ken Frank and then under Jonathan Waxman. He then moved on to Chez Panisse before taking on the role of head chef at the original Spago in 1981.

An author of several cookbooks, Peel went on to found La Brea Bakery, the Tar Pit, the Point, and Prawn Coastal at Grand Central Market. He is survived by his five children.