Meet Executive Chef Mark DeKrines

By: Team Pop Up Gourmet Jamaica

Mark first embraced the culinary world as a child in the kitchens of his family. Going to his grand parent’s house was always a treat. “You must not eat before we go,” said his mother because grandma has something special for us. The first stop would be the garden where he would pick fresh berries, grapes, and tree fruits. He would help grandpa with his garden and winemaking chores. Growing up in a house where the kitchen was the heart and soul of the family naturally led him into this vocation.

At 17 he migrated to Texas and started at the Flagship Hotel on Galveston Island. For 4 years he worked as a purchasing agent procuring foods for 7 different chefs hailing from several countries. Each chef had different requirements and this developed his knowledge of food. Moving back to Pennsylvania he found work in a country club as a cook.  Tom Bolger, a CIA-trained chef, took Mark in and taught him how to cook professionally. After 4 years there he went to Miami where he worked with world-class French chefs. There he learned the skills enabling him to be where he is today.

He gained his first executive chef position at the age of 32 in the prestigious Omni Colonnade Hotel in Coral Gables. After 11 years there (6 as executive chef) Sandals Resorts made him an offer he could not refuse. An opportunity to work in another country at a resort that has 5 restaurants, butchery, and pastry shops was a dream come true for Chef Mark. “We all have to work so why not work in paradise” (speaking of Jamaica) He took on that challenge for 4 years before taking a break from the culinary arts.

But successful business interests could not keep him away from his true calling. A small boutique hotel opened up in Ocho Rios and was looking for a chef. He soon found himself back in the kitchen cooking and creating menus for the Shaw Park Beach Hotel. After 2½ years there it was time for Kingston and the Courtleigh Hotel & Suites. This is his home now and he has settled in quite nicely with his Jamaican-born wife of over 10 years and their 3 children.

  • Chef Mark has created and executed several Chaine des Rotisseurs dinners in Miami.
  • He received the manager of the year in 1994 at the Colonnade.
  • Developed and directed a dinner for the Secretaries of State of 40 nations at the Summit if the Americas in 1994
  • Hosted a “Feeding the Mind” fundraiser with 12 of the most famous female chefs in America in 1996
  • Participated in many high-profile community and charitable events during his career.
  • Hosted the Sandals “Ultra Travel Agent Awards” gala banquet in 1999
  • Member of a 5 chef team that won 2 first prizes at the First International Barbecue/Jerk Cook-off in Montego Bay in 2002
  • Awarded “best supporting chef by Le Toque Blanches in 2001
  • Awarded gold medals for “best beef and best soup” in “A celebration of Jamaican street food” culinary competition in 2009.
  • Numerous features in newspapers and magazines on food.
  • Served two terms as Vice President for the Kingston area of the Culinary Federation of Jamaica.

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