Mark Peel, the influential longtime Los Angeles chef and restaurateur who founded Campanile with his ex-wife Nancy Silverton, died Sunday in Los Angeles. He was 67.
His daughter told the Los Angeles Times that he had been diagnosed with an aggressive form of cancer just nine days ago.
Peel appeared twice on “Top Chef Masters” and was a “Top Chef” judge in 2009 and 2010. He also made appearances on shows such as “Hell’s Kitchen,” “Knife Fight” and “Kitchen Nightmares.”
For 23 years, James Beard-award winning Campanile was a favorite spot for Hollywood power lunches and celebratory dinners. Built on La Brea Avenue in a historic building that was built for Charlie Chaplin’s offices, Campanile closed in 2012 and the building now houses Republique.
When Campanile closed, Jonathan Gold, who was married at the restaurant and freely admitted he couldn’t possibly be unbiased when writing about it, wrote, “It is hard to overstate Campanile’s contributions to American cooking. It wasn’t the first fine restaurant in the country to operate with a grill at its heart, but it codified the style, as well as the practice of reinterpreting simple dishes — steak and beans, Greek salad, fish soup — with first-rate ingredients and chefly virtuosity.”
Peel started his career cooking under Wolfgang Puck at Ma Maison. After training further at such prestigious French restaurants as La Tour d’Argent and Moulin de Mougins, he returned to California. Cooking first at Michael’s and then at Chez Panisse, he had a front row seat at the birth of California cuisine and brought that experience to become head chef at the original Spago.
Peel and Silverton also founded La Brea Bakery, which was sold in 2001. Peel went on to open the Tar Pit, also on La Brea, the Point and later Prawn Coastal at Grand Central Market. He also authored several cookbooks.
Peel is survived by three children with Silverton, from whom he was divorced in 2004, and two with his wife Daphne Brogdon, an actor and comedian, who survives him.