Executive Chef/Partner Mark Garcia is bringing his exclusive approach to omakase from Gaijin to Kissaki. A Chicago-native, Garcia began a decade long mentorship with Chef Kaze Chan of Sushi-san, who has a 30-year history of opening innovative and wildly successful sushi restaurants (Heat, Mirai Sushi, Kaze Sushi, Macku Sushi), while working at Sushi Samba in 2003. Chef Mark has worked in a variety of service positions and in numerous restaurant/hotel kitchens (Waldorf Astoria, The Wit & J.W. Marriott Chicago) throughout his nearly two decades in the hospitality industry. His broad experience lends him an understanding of the kitchen/server/staff relationship and the dynamics that go into running a successful restaurant. In 2014, Chef Mark was able to rejoin Chef Kaze and Michelin-starred chef Jeff Ramsey to collaborate and subsequently develop the menu and design for the sushi bar in Momotaro. This multi-dimensional sushi, izakaya, and bar spot quickly became one of Chicago’s hottest restaurants and remains open today.
In October 2016, Chef Mark debuted his modern omakase at Gaijin in Astoria Queens. The fitting name “Gaijin” literally translates to “outsider” in Japanese, as Mark considers himself an outsider whose deep appreciation of the culture and craft ultimately led him to open the Astoria restaurant. The term “outsider” is also a nod to Chef Mark’s experience overcoming external doubts about his place in the sushi world. Rather than giving in to the doubts and spite, Chef Mark embraced his role as an outsider and used the doubt as motivation to get him to where he is today. Now, Mark has assembled a team to unveil Kissaki on Bowery, where he presides over an elegant, 27-seat counter with 16 seats reserved for the omakase menu and the remaining 11 seats for cocktails. Here, Mark and his team have created a unique and intimate dining experience that honors the Japanese tradition and the art of the knife. Like craftsmen and artists with a practiced hand, Kissaki delivers precise dishes that tell a story.
Chris is a graduate of the Culinary Institute of America. He began working in the industry in high school and immediately knew this was where he wanted to make his career. Shortly after leaving CIA, he worked the hotel circuit in Chicago including the Fairmont, Palmer House and Four Seasons. When his tenure in hotels was complete, he transitioned to working in Japanese food starting with Japonais. He has also worked for Morimoto and was the CDC for Momotaro in Chicago for its opening and some time thereafter. He then moved to Lettuce Entertain You to help manage and develop recipes for the San brand before finally landing at Kissaki as the Corporate Chef de Cuisine.