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Chef Spotlight: Mark Mata of AUGUST on the UES

Chef Spotlight: Mark Mata of AUGUST on the UES

Mark Mata is the Executive Chef of August, the contemporary American restaurant, on New York City's Upper East Side. A 2004 CIA graduate, he began his career at the Union Square Café. Mata was previously the Executive Chef of Mermaid Inn and Persephone and Chef de Cuisine at BiCE. He was also contestant on the Food Network's Chopped. Mata describes his cooking style as "light, healthy, flavorful and vegetable-focused, prepared with classic Continental technique and global influences." Mata is a Binghamton, New York native and he currently lives in New York City.

Broadwayworld.com interviewed Chef Mata about his career and August for our "Chef Spotlight."

What was your earliest interest in cooking?

My earliest interest in cooking was when I was 9 years old. I would have a visual view of culinary cuisine by looking through cookbooks, and watching Emeril & Mario Batali.

Who were some of your career mentors?

Some of my career mentors were my parents and brother. They were very supportive of my culinary interests, even though my parents wanted me to attend Georgetown and become a doctor. I would also have to say Ben Pollinger. He hired me as an intern straight from culinary school for the Union Square Café. He had a fiery attitude to him and it was what made me realize how my approach in the kitchen would be.

What culinary styles have influenced your career?

Filipino food influenced my career because I grew up with it. I'd also credit Italian, French, and Asian because I've worked in restaurants in the city with those types of cuisines; it's what I know, and because of it, I love cooking with seafood.

What do you consider the most distinguishing features of your work as a chef?

The three details that distinguish my work as a chef are cool, calm, and collected. It's what helps me stay focused on what I'll serve out there. As for my style, I guess I haven't found it yet; it takes time.

What is your favorite meal?

My favorite meal is Mom's Chicken Adobo. When I first started at the Culinary Institute of America, I got homesick. I couldn't just go back home; however, when I started working in the city in 2003 I would go home almost every weekend (upstate New York) and say "Hey mom, can you make the Chicken Adobo?"

Tell us a little about your restaurant for our readers.

August is a contemporary American restaurant with simple, straightforward dishes, and strong, appealing flavors. We're approachable.

August is located at 791 Lexington Avenue (between 61st and 62nd Street), New York, NY 10065. Call them at 212.935.1433 and visit their web site at www.augustny.com.

Editor's Note: Stay tuned to Broadwayworld.com Food and Wine for a feature article talking about the food and drink offerings at August.

Photo Credit: Courtesy of August

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