Mark Estee

Chef & Restaurateur

With a larger-than-life personality, it’s only fitting that Mark Estee is celebrity chef to “The Biggest Little City in the World,” a James Beard Award semifinalist for Best Chef, as well as the newest Food Network star. A staple of the northern Nevada culinary scene, Mark is a pioneer in the local food movement. “Our job is to buy great products and not eff them up!” His company Reno Local Food Group sources ingredients for his five award-winning restaurants from area farmers, ranchers, butchers and vendors to create the freshest local dishes north of Las Vegas. For Mark, food is all about human connection.

Mark was born and raised on the East Coast, an Italian-Greek boy from Boston who followed his culinary mentor out West and never looked back. Nowadays he has nine restaurants, many of them Italian inspired and showcases for “grandmother’s cooking:” a lot of whole animal butchery, house-cured meats, pasta and pizza doughs by hand, always showcasing the local farmers and ranchers and purveyors at the heart of Mark’s vision for how food should be made and shared. With more than 25 years of experience under his chef’s jacket, Mark’s current mission is to help struggling restauranteurs around the country on his Food Network show “Undercover Chef.” Given his successful track record, we hope they listen.

Good food and good drinks are a given. I’m in the business of making people happy.

I get to use my 25 years of the ups, downs, sideways and the all-arounds to really help others in the community and industry. I’m constantly drawing on these life experiences.