Thursday, August 9, 2012

ATC Interview with Mark Gaier- Continued

ATC:  Did you do anything to prepare for the competition?

MG:  I watched the prior seasons of the show, sharpened my knives and brushed up on some skills.  When you own and operate three restaurants, you are more into administration rather than cooking on the line, and so I spent some time in he kitchen and became more involved in the kitchen that I have in the last few years.

ATC:  Did you watch the episode last night?

MG:  I didn't because we are traveling and I was actually airborne last night.  This morning I downloaded it from iTunes and so far I have watched through the Quickfire Challenge.  I really enjoyed the Quickfire.  I will finish watching as soon as I can.  I'm dying to see it.

ATC:  It was a great episode, but I have to warn you that there is a heartbreaking ending.

MG:  I'll be honest with you, there was some sense of relief when I was eliminated.  I was so tired, you know, I am not 25 any more and they work you hard there.  It was fun, but there was a moment when I thought, "Well, I get to sleep in tomorrow, go shopping and spend some time with friends in Las Vegas.." so that was kind of neat.

ATC:  Tell us about your restaurants.

MG:  Our first restaurant,  Arrows, is on five acres in the countryside.  We were on the forefront of what is now called the "farm-to-table" concept.   We have an organic garden and we were working on sustainability as early as 1990, before it was all over the radar screen.  We are very proud of that.   We are kind of pioneers, and especially in such a harsh climate.  It is not easy to keep an organic garden going in Maine.

ATC:  Then, our second restaurant, MC Perkins Cove we opened a few years later.  We were so involved in running Arrow and trying to make it better that we were coasting on that and as we entered our late 30's we were ready for a new challenge.

An opportunity opened up for us to get this great piece of real estate right on the ocean and we opened up a two-story restaurant.  Kind of a rock 'em sock 'em with an oyster bar, and off-the-grill items, small plates, salads - still keeping with the sustaibability and using things from the Arrow garden.  A lot of the food is like what Clark and I grew up with.

And then in 2007, Marriot Hotels approached us about opening a restaurant on their Boston property.  We looked at the property and recommended that Marriot just blow it up and start over and that is sort of what they did.  This was the first Marriot that I know of that has a full-time gardener, a greenhouse and a terraced garden right outside of the kitchen. [Editor's note:  This restaurant is Summer Winter.]

ATC:  Tell us about your charity.

MG:  My charity, Equality Maine Foundation, is a cause that is very dear to Clark and I and to many of our friends.  We have a referendum coming up in Maine where the voters will decide whether to give same-sex couples the same legal rights as so-called "normal" couples.  Clark and I have been very involved in many of their fundraisers.

Of course I would have loved to have been able to present them with $100,000 - wow that would have been great - but the $10,000 will do a lot to further the cause, that is certainly more than what I could have done on my own.

ATC:  That is a very important cause.  Chef Mark, we are almost out of time, is there anything else that you would like to say to your fans?

Oh, it has been great.  just on this trip we have been recognized several times.  It is really a lot of fun.  First on the flight from Boston to Los Angeles someone said, "We recognize you guys, you are on Top Chef."

And then at the airport, we were in the bookstore and a woman actually got up from her table at a restaurant across the hall and came over and said, "You're those guys on Top Chef.  I am really enjoying watching you!"

I feel very honored to have been a part of it.

ATC:  Thank you very much for joining the cast and thank you for the interview.

MG:  My pleasure.

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