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Tuesday, Aug 16, 2022

Mark Peel, Chef and La Brea Bakery Co-Founder, Dies

Mark Peel, one of L.A.'s most influential chefs and a co-founder of La Brea Bakery, died on June 20, shortly after being diagnosed with cancer. He was 66.

Peel helped Los Angeles develop into a hub of fine dining and food innovation, creating many of the flavors that L.A. is known for today.

Peel started his career working under famed chef Wolfgang Puck at Ma Maison. The restaurant, formerly located on Melrose Avenue, helped reinvent the Los Angeles food scene.

Peel then joined the opening team at Michael's restaurant in Santa Monica, which pioneered California cuisine. 

In 1981, Peel became Chef de Cuisine at Puck’s most prestigious restaurant, Spago.

Peel’s most significant contribution to the L.A. restaurant scene came when he founded Campanile in 1989 with his first wife, Nancy Silverton.

Campanile would become one of the city's most prominent examples of California cuisine. It was labeled as one of the city's best restaurants by L.A. Times food critic Jonathan Gold.

Gold spoke highly of Peel, saying in a 2012 column that he was “the most exacting grill chef in the country, a master who plays his smoldering logs the way that Pinchas Zukerman does a Stradivarius.”

A few months before Peel and Silverton opened Campanile, they opened the La Brea Bakery adjacent to the restaurant.

The bakery would become one of the most successful bakeries in the United States and its assortments of loaves, rolls, and other take-n-bake products can be found in grocery stores like Albertsons, Kroger and Whole Foods Markets nationwide.

La Brea Bakery also is still open at its Los Angeles location on La Brea Avenue.

In later years, Peel developed two cookbooks with Silverton and one with Martha Rose Shulman based on his recipes. These books include, “Food of Campanile,” “Mark Peel and Nancy Silverton at Home” and “New Classic Family Dinners."

Between 2010 to 2012, he operated the Tar Pit on La Brea Avenue. More recently, he operated a seafood restaurant called Prawn Coastal, which is still open today at the Los Angeles Grand Central Market.

“He was a husband, partner, father, grandfather, brother and uncle with so much joy and aplomb," Peel's family said in a statement. "We will miss him and his cooking with all our hearts (and stomachs).”

He is survived by his wife, actor and comedian Daphne Brogdon, and their two children, as well as three children with former wife Silverton.


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