- MARK STRAUSMAN Mark Strausman was born in Queens, New York, in 1956. Growing up in Flushing, he was always attracted to cooking and often made meals for the family. "My mom and I had a simple deal, which she loved, " he recalls, "I would shop and cook, she would clean." His first job in the food service industry was selling peanuts at Shea Stadium, but he began to cook professionally while earning a degree in Hotel Management in the highly respected culinary program at New York City Technical College. When the school offered to place him overseas after graduation, Mark jumped at the opportunity. He spent the next four years working and training in some of the best five-star hotels in Europe, including the Hessischer Hof and Kempinski Hotel Gravenbrauch Frankfurt, the Montreaux Palace, Montreaux, and the Amstel Hotel, Amsterdam. He was indoctrinated in the strict European caste system, working from the Comme de Cuisine to Chef de Cuisine. "It's kind of like being a musician," he says, "you need to learn the classics before you can strike out on your own." Returning to New York in the mid 1980's, Mark worked at the Stanhope and Jacqueline’s; using the classic continental skills he had gained abroad. But his future was in Italian food. "French food is great", he says, "but there is only so much one can do with it. You know with television they say that the medium is the message. Well, with Italians the medium is food - good, sensual food." Early in 1988, Mark opened Sapore di Mare in East Hampton with Pino Luongo and the rest, as they say, is history. Sapore became the hardest place in town to get table, as weekending New Yorkers made it the only place to be seen. Late in 1990, the pair opened Coco Pazzo on the East Side of New York, which quickly garnered critical acclaim, including a coveted three-star rating from the New York Times. In 1992, Strausman was selected Best American Chef by Tenimenti di Barolo e Fontanafredda in Alba, Italy, and received Grand Prize in the 1992 Proscuitto di Parma Chef Recipe Contest. Leaving Coco Pazzo in June 1993, he founded Mark Strausman's Entertainment Catering, a company that specialized in off-premise catering and special events, and whose functions included the 1994 Grammy party for SONY music at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Opening Campagna in June 1994, Strausman realized the dream of owning his own restaurant. Labeled "media central" by New York Magazine, Campagna was an instant critical and commercial success. At Campagna, Strausman's simple, updated Italian peasant food has found a permanent home. Campagna has expanded to include Campagna Catering, an off-premise catering company that already has an impressive client list. In 1996 Strausman was chosen to Run Barney’s Restaurant in its flagship store on Madison and 61st street in Manhattan. This restaurant has gotten stellar reviews from New York Magazine and Gourment and has become one of New York’s premier party spaces in the evening. In 1997 Strausman received a consulting contract with Wegman’s food market of Rochester New York this began a two year relationship of menu planning, product development, recipe program and corporate food training and team building exercises. He help develop and get off the ground Wegman Italian classics. In 2001 Barneys New York decided to move the restaurant Fred’s at Barneys New York from the lower level to the ninth floor. Since the change the restaurant has become a haven for celebrities and New York society. It has been featured in Woman’s wear daily, The New York Observer for being the place to be seen for lunch in New York. In 2003 Strausman developed a partnership with Pino Luongo the original owner of Coco Pazzo Restaurant where he was once chef. In September he took over the kitchen at Coco Pazzo and has restored it to it’s original three star rating with the New York Times. Today Mark can be found at Fred’s during the day and at Coco for dinner. Strausman has been featured in many publications, and on television, appearing on "The Late Show with David Letterman", Lifetimes popular "The Home Show", late night with Conan O’Brien, Discovery “Home Matters” CBS “This Morning”, and a regular guest on Martha Stewart Living, among others.