The food world and The Collins College of Hospitality Management community lost a beloved family member. Legendary California chef, restaurateur, and Cal Poly Pomona Distinguished Alumnus Mark Peel died suddenly on Father's Day 2021. The cause was an aggressive form of cancer.
Considered one of the founders of California cuisine, Peel started his career as a dishwasher in high school and went on to study hotel and restaurant management at Cal Poly Pomona. From his early days in the kitchen at Chez Panisse, Michaels and Ma Maison to being the opening chef at Spago, Mark blazed a trail of what we all have come to think of as farm-to-table. Mentored by Wolfgang Puck, Mark would go on to national acclaim with his former wife Nancy Silverton when they opened Campanile and La Brea Bakery. Later, Mark would open one of the first mixology supper clubs in LA, The Tar Pit. After 24 years at Campanile Mark continued to be open to new ideas. He did a series of pop-ups with his wife, Daphne Brogdon ( Food Network's, "Daphne Dishes”), consulted on a variety of restaurants, and created Campanile LAX with Host, still in Terminal 4. A father of five, he shifted to casual cuisine to spend more time with his two youngest children and opened Prawn, in the Grand Central Market in downtown Los Angeles. Between opening and owning restaurants along the way, he wrote his own cookbook, “New Classic Family Dinners,” and co-authored two cookbooks with Silverton.
Mark was known for being at the farmer's market every week and wanted food to look like it's ingredients, not architectural or altered “Food should look like it just dropped down from heaven,” he said. He had a deep knowledge of food and food science. He mentored countless chefs who have gone on to great renown themselves, including, Suzanne Goin, Govind Armstrong, Suzanne Tracht, Jason Fullilove, Bryant Ng and many others. Mark loved to work the dining room and learn about people. He was humble when identified as a celebrity chef. He knew he was in the service business. But, he said that what was great about what he and others in hospitality do is "we make magic moments." Indeed, he made many.
Mark is dearly missed by his family. His youngest is only 12. Months before Mark was diagnosed with cancer he talked about wanting to teach. He wanted to teach at a place where he could guide and connect with aspiring young chefs, who -- like himself -- work hard, love food and want to make people happy. It is important to the Peel family that his children have something to nurture and keep their father's legacy alive. They know that the mission of The Collins College of Hospitality Management is in concert with Mark Peel's. He often said that the greatest chef could not succeed if he couldn't read a profit and loss statement. Mark was an artist and he was practical. He was passionate about helping the underdog, to give an opportunity to someone who might not otherwise have the chance -- qualities shared at Collins. To that end, his wife is establishing the Mark Peel Culinary Scholarship Endowment Fund at The Collins College of Hospitality Management, Cal Poly Pomona. This endowment fund will support a scholarship to deserving students, in Mark’s honor, in perpetuity.
Please join us in continuing Mark’s legacy and commitment to the industry and students by supporting the Mark Peel Culinary Scholarship Endowment Fund. Your contribution will keep Mark’s memory alive in the countless students that will be supported in his honor.
November 19th is Mark’s birthday. He would have been 67.
All donations to this scholarship are tax deductible. This fund* is held in the Cal Poly Pomona Philanthropic Foundation, which is a 501(c)(3) non-profit public benefit organization (Federal ID 83-2300241).
If your preference is to donate by mail you can do so by sending a check made payable to Cal Poly Pomona Philanthropic Foundation to:
Cal Poly Pomona Gift Processing
Attn: Collins College / Memory of Mark Peel
P.O. Box 3121
Pomona, CA 91769
For further questions feel free to contact Krista Spangler, Senior Director of Development, Collins College of Hospitality Management at (909) 869-4450 or email at email@example.com
*The purpose of this campaign is to create an endowed scholarship account in the Collins College of Hospitality Management in memory of Mark Peel. In the event the amount raised is less than $50,000 by November 2025, the fund will not be endowed and instead will be kept in a spendable account for supporting an annual scholarship until funding is exhausted.