Five Questions with J.Mark Hand
Chef J. Mark Hand is the Corporate Chef and Director of Winery Events for Feastivities Events and Catering. Chef Hand has a focus on Sue Ann Staff Estate Winery, Mike Weir Winery and Stoney Ridge Estate Winery. Chef Hand mentions that he is always looking to form new winery partnerships. His energy and culinary wizardry make him another perfect choice for our series. He is a long term promoter of the wine and food industry in Niagara. Chef J Mark Hand was one of the founding chefs of Niagara’s food scene before we knew we even had one!
What are five things you can’t live without?
My wife Kelly, my children Ali and Christian, my dock boat, music and The Chicago Bears. Strangely I love the same artists that I loved 25 years ago. For me there’s comfort in it….just listening alone in the car. The dockboat for me means that in 2 minutes I can be far away from the day to day life. It can be just Kelly and I or 10 people eating and jamming. It just takes me away even after a crappy day.
What do you love about being a chef in Niagara?
I love the camaraderie of chefs and I have been told that it is odd that we have such great relationships. Guys from Toronto have said “we don’t do this we’re too competitive.” I really love how Niagara chefs are different that way.
What might we find you eating for dinner at home?
The last dinner we made here was a meal that Kelly and I would have made when we were at the Auberge. It was spaetzle, and pork schnitzel and vegetables. Just old school European cooking which is how I trained. Cream mushroom sauce on the spaetzle….just comfort winter food.
What is your favourite kitchen item?
My knife. A good knife is what you need, no more gadgets needed.
What do you like cooking the best from Niagara regional cuisine?
A lot of people ask me this question and I’ll be honest I don’t have a favourite. I love cooking, I’m a chef it’s what I love. Time and place plays into it all of the time. Would I say that Niagara peaches are the best? They’re good but no, the best peach is where you are picking it…time and place.
What is you dirty little food secret or something others might be surprised that you eat?
I don’t really have one. I do put HP sauce on my eggs but that’s really it.