About the Chef

About the chef

Mark Tomczak, owner and chef of FRESH, grew up in a large Polish-Catholic family in Michigan, as the last of eleven children. In elementary school, Mark would often develop a “tummy ache” after lunch requiring his mother, Rose, to pick him up early. They spent hundreds of afternoons together baking and cooking in the kitchen to feed their large family. His love of food and nourishing others with food began as a boy.

In college, Mark studied fine arts and ceramics and graduated from the University of Michigan and Ohio University with a bachelor and master’s degree in Ceramic Fine Arts. He also worked as a core student for two years in North Carolina at Penland School of Arts and Crafts. Mark moved to North Carolina in 1998 with his WNC native wife, Courtney, to begin his dream of creating a working pottery studio and gallery.

Mark has had a successful career for the last 12 years with his studio and gallery, Muddy Creek Pottery, in Old Fort. Galleries up and down the east coast carry his work. He has been the recipient of two arts council grants, an artist-in-residence, and taught ceramics at the undergraduate, graduate and community college level over the last 18 years. When the economy began to significantly impact his sales, Mark began to consider opening a restaurant where he could showcase his culinary as well as artistic skills.

Mark first worked as an assistant cook at Penland as a core student. After graduate school, he was an assistant chef at a five-star restaurant at The Inn and Spa at Cedar Falls, in Hocking Hills, Ohio and as an assistant chef and then head chef at The Colonial, in Jackson, Ohio.

Mark always dreamed of combining his love of food with his beautiful art. At long last, he has merged his creative talents. As Mark shapes dough balls in his hand, one can see the motor memory of wedging clay in his touch. He feels right at home working the pizzas in the wood-fired oven, just as he did pulling pottery out of his kiln. While you feast on the culinary artistry of Mark’s hand in the kitchen, your eyes can feast on his ceramic works displayed around the restaurant and gracing each table: from pottery dish to culinary fare.