When Mark was around seven years old, his Grandmother, Martha Holden, was among the most influential people in his life. Mark’s mother was the youngest of seven children, an he was one of the youngest of 29 grandchildren. His grandmother never forgot any family birthday – and with so many family members, there was bound to be a celebration nearly every week of the year. She cooked for every holiday and special event. Standing a demure 4’10”, Mark remembers she was a gentle woman, but her strength lay in getting her family of anywhere between ten and forty members together every week for Sunday dinner. She was always in the kitchen, always cooking or baking something wonderful. Everything she made was from scratch and she never consulted a recipe. Martha Holden was first, Mark’s grandmother, but, in hindsight, she was also his original mentor. She taught him how to cook a number of different recipes.
The most important thing that Mark’s grandmother taught him was about the power of food to form bonds between family and friends. Mark was 12 when his grandmother passed away, taking many of her cherished secret family recipes with her. Ask him today and Mark will still smile, gazing off into the distance, as he recalls his grandmother’s plum pudding – a recipe he still hasn’t come close to duplicating – that, and the scratch pie crusts she made with just a dash of vinegar to surpirse the taste buds and perfectly balance the sweetness of any dessert. Mark’s grandmother inspired him to care for others. She taught him how to express his passions through fantastic food. He learned to create bold, surprising combinations of flavors and to teach others how to love the full expression of the food they eat and it is this mission he continues today, these many years
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