Mark Sorezo – Executive Chef at Katsuya by Starck M. H. Alshaya Co.
Mark Sorezo graduated in Information Technology and received his degree Bachelor of Science. Today he works in a different field, but also in a kind of science: Cooking. Chef Mark is sushi expert and Executive Chef at Katsuya by Starck M. H. Alshaya Co.
Filipino Chef Mark has told us all about how and why he started his cooking career after completing his IT degree, the Japanese cuisine in Doha and his dream of having his own restaurant in his home country – the Philippines.
Mark Sorezo – Chef’s Portrait
Mark, your career began with a Bachelor of Science in Information Technology (Manuel S. Enverga University). Why did you change your job and become a cook?
While I was studying in college, I worked part time in different fast-food restaurants as a kitchen helper and one of them was a Japanese restaurant. After graduating in the IT field, I worked in fashion wares in Philippines for almost 2 years. I decided to explore different opportunities abroad for more exposure and experience. As a started my journey in Dubai 2008 I was granted an opportunity to be part of Zuma Restaurant as a Commi 3, pre-opening operational team.
Where does your fascination and passion for cooking come from?
Other than enjoying the love of eating food, my passion and drive to become a chef started when I worked with my first two Japanese chefs (Masaharu Kondo and Takashi Kori) as well as two well know chefs in Dubai (Colin Clague and Reif Othman). They made me understand what it takes to become a good chef and the prospects of that. They give me invaluable lessons regarding, very strict expectations and high standard of chef training. Achieving their standard was the highest merit that I got with 2 promotions in my first year from Commi 3 to Commi 1 and that continued every year.
At the beginning of your career as a chef, you have worked as a sushi chef for ZUMA in Dubai for more than 5 years. How does this time still affect your work as a cook?
Having my platform in wish the learning and knowledge from Zuma was fundamental to my success at the time, this influenced me a lot to continue my learning as a chef and sharing my knowledge to my junior chefs by giving them as much as I can to teach and guide them to achieved great success in their future roles.
In 2013, you were trained at Sushi Chef Brand Training at Katsuya by Starck, Los Angeles, California. It was a Hollywood-inspired modern version of Japanese cuisine. How is this style different from the classic Japanese style?
Having my sushi chef training in LA, I’ve learned a lot of innovations in Japanese food including different ingredients and method of cooking. This style gave me a wide variety of flavors that can be use in Japanese food and elevate the traditional techniques with a combination of American fusion.
At “Katsuya by Starck M. H. Alshaya” in Dubai you worked as Head Chef for more than 3 years, where you also helped with the opening of Katsuya Kuwait. What is the culinary handwriting of “Katsuya by Starck M.H. Alshaya”, how is it different from other Japanese restaurants?
The main difference would be the classical techniques of Japan infused with the modern style of The US has created a more popular and exciting play on what the demand currently is regarding Japanese cuisine. It embodies a lot of excitement with keeping to its heritage of what Japanese food is all about.
Today you work as Executive Chef at “Katsuya by Starck M. H. Alshaya Co” in Doha, Qatar. Are there culinary differences in Dubai, Kuwait or Doha?
Being able to work in all three markets I would say the diversification of spending power to preferences in cooking methods to cultural understanding is all different. Kuwait & Doha would be similar in ordering flow of what they like and predominantly ordering more cooked to raw. Were in Dubai I see I cross board approach of understanding were raw and cooked has a more even flow of orders comparing to the other two.
How would you describe your own culinary line today?
I was taught and trained in the classical upbringing of Japanese cuisine and with that foundation I have always stayed true to that. I would say that over the past few years I have seen a change in my cooking style to understanding the local palates and adapt to visual appealing dishes that taste amazing but also looks good.
As Executive Chef at “Katsuya by Starck M. H. Alshaya Co” in Doha, how is your culinary setup? Do you offer a combination of classical Japanese dishes combined with some innovative dishes?
We offer authentic Japanese cuisine and innovated dishes that are prepared using the combination of traditional technique and modern cooking that are well defined and balanced flavors.
The right type of rice for sushi and other traditional Japanese dishes is like a science. What type of rice do you use?
We are using Nishiki rice, a medium grain rice grown in California and its very similar to Calrose rice.
What kind of desserts do you offer?
We offer traditional and variety of Mochi Ice Cream and modern dessert like Chocolate Lava cake and Green Tea Layered Cake.
If you have a day off, where and what do you eat in Doha?
I normally spend staying at home chatting with my family back home and do home cooking mostly Filipino dishes. Working for quite a while in middle east I also enjoy exploring Arabic dishes such as Falafel, shawarma and Hummus.
Any place in the world you would like to work as a chef one day?
I would like to put into practice my knowledge and experiences by building my own restaurant in Philippines. Though I still want to expose my kitchen operation in other countries like Singapore, London and USA.
Thank you so much, Chef Mark!
Chef Mark has an unusual start to his culinary journey. How did you start your career as a chef?
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