Today on Foodie Friday, meet culinary consultant Rosemary Mark. Known in foodie circles for her recipe development and product concept development, Rosemary has worked with some well-known brands representing everything from the egg board to walnuts, and ice cream to vegetables. Her work is in a variety of mediums in numerous national outlets. She believes in fresh cooking and clean ingredients and hopes companies will only grow their sense of responsibility for the environment.
What is your role in the food industry?
I develop and test recipes for food companies, providing content for consumer and foodservice websites, social media, product promotions, and food product development.
How did you first get involved in the food industry?
I interned with the California Egg Board after graduating from Cal Poly San Luis Obispo with a degree in home economics and business. For five years, I did sales and marketing for a fresh egg distributor called Rebecca Farms Eggs – I was called the Egg Lady! My first freelance recipe project was with Golden Grain Pasta in 1993, through a home economist colleague. Over the years through networking and outreach I developed clients including Sun Diamond, Sun-Maid, Driscoll’s, the California Walnut Board, Basic American Foods, Del Monte, Safeway and others.
What/who inspired your current role in the food industry?
When I was a high school sophomore I wrote to women’s magazine food editors – Good Housekeeping, Family Circle, Ladies Home Journal, Good Food, Redbook – told them my favorite hobby was cooking and asked how to work in recipe development and testing. They all replied, and I still have the letters! They said to take chemistry and organic chemistry in high school then study home economics in preparation for a career with food companies, public relations agencies, magazines or supermarkets.
What food trends are most influential in what you do?
I’m happy to see the interest in fresh clean cooking. Cooking takes planning or what I call a mental cookbook, it doesn’t need to be complicated for healthful tasty food. I also really like the growing trend that consumers and companies care about the social and environmental impact of their food business. I particularly noted the corporate social responsibility this year at the San Francisco Fancy Food show and wrote about it here.
What is the most significant change you’ve witnessed in the food industry?
Television and social media have had a significant influence on the food industry in the past 10+ years. It has fed the hunger so to speak, of people wanting good food and new food experiences. It can be educational and entertaining, but also what I call “vicarious cooking” for non-cooks, and it has grown partly because of the absence of home cooking in many households. More people have started cooking and enjoying cooking with the popularity of food media, cooking schools, and on-line cooking courses. Conversely, I don’t think everyone has to love to cook, even if they do like good food. Cooking takes effort and people have all different interests; they just may not enjoy cooking. I keep that in mind when I create recipes for clients.
What's your big splurge food item? Any particular brand you're willing to pay more for?
Usually ice cream. I’ll go out of my way for small craft ice creams. BiRite Creamery in San Francisco is a favorite, Salt and Straw in Portland, and Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams which I’ve tasted at food shows but not yet ordered on-line!
What keeps you going as a food professional?
New foods and new trends and having colleagues to collaborate with either socially or in professional organizations like International Association of Culinary Professionals and the San Francisco Professional Food Society.
What’s your favorite food to make at home?
At the moment my favorite food to make is slow-rise artisan style breads. I’ve been using the book Flour Water Salt Yeast by Ken Forkish and every loaf I make is excellent.
What’s your favorite meal to order in a restaurant?
Osso Bucco since I rarely make it for myself.
What three ingredients could you not live without?
Eggs, butter, flour. I like to bake! Though I can bake gluten free and vegan, and I’m impressed with what can be done with those restrictions, I really love traditional baking.
Name the food/ingredient you can’t live without.
Any kind of dairy – eggs, milk, yogurt, cheese.
Tell us about a memorable meal you’ve had.
Hard to choose but one that comes to mind was the longest I ever waited for a meal. We waited 2.5 hours with the most beautiful beachside view in Cape Coast, Ghana, at a rustic café run by a Ghanaian man and Croatian woman. I’m sure they were in the ocean catching the fish while we waited because it was the most delicate and best flavor I’ve ever had with their traditional tomato and pepe pepper sauce. My mouth waters writing this!
Another meal was in Rome – best pastas ever, perfectly cooked pasta and sauces. I’ve been working on repeating and have gotten pretty close.
Who in the food industry do you most admire?
I truly admired Flo Braker, an avid and meticulous baker and cookbook author who passed away last year. She authored numerous baking books; The Simple Art of Perfect Baking is one I consider a standard for baking.
What food or ingredient would you never use or eat?
Truffles, unless they’re chocolate! Sadly, I’ve never enjoyed them, but I love all other types of mushrooms.
Where would you most like to live? Why?
Italy (if I could speak Italian!). I’ve had some exquisite meals in Rome and the Amalfi coast. I love the Mediterranean cuisine.
Please describe your perfect day.
A perfect day is baking and cooking without time pressure or the need to document the recipes. I carefully plan and document for clients and when I cook for myself I realize the freedom and enjoyment that brought me to make my hobby a profession.
Tell us about your favorite vacation destination.
Since 2010 I’ve enjoyed spending time in Berlin where my daughter has lived for 8 years. It has been very interesting to watch the increase in vegan, vegetarian, organic, and food re-use and waste reduction. Berlin seems like a rapid pace microcosm of the food trends we’ve observed in the U.S., or at least in California where I live.
Connect with Rosemary:
Facebook: Get Cooking Simply