Black Mountain, North Carolina

About the Chef

Locally Owned • Locally Thrown

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 and his mother would 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 the 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. Since then he has build a number of kilns and fired thousands of pots for galleries all over the nation.

Mark has had a successful career for the last 10 years with his studio and gallery, Muddy Creek Pottery.  Galleries up and down the east coast still carry his work. He has been the recipient of two arts-council grants and taught ceramics at the undergraduate, graduate and community college level over the last 18 years. Last year, 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 an assistant chef and then head chef at The Colonial, in Jackson, Ohio.  

Mark has talked for years about serving delicious food artfully prepared on his own platters and plates. At long last, he has combined his creative talents. As a ceramic artist he shaped bare clay into form and watched carefully as a raging kiln transformed earth into art. Now, he will spend his time kneading and shaping other elements of the earth – water, salt and flour into dough. Watching him shape and prepare the dough balls, it is dfficult to discern his kneading from wedging clay. He feels at home in front of his Italian wood fired pizza oven just as he did firing the kiln he built himself at his studio. 

While you are feasting on Mark’s delicious culinary fare, your eyes will no doubt feast on his ceramic works displayed around the restaurant and gracing each table: from pottery dish to culinary dish—everything at FRESH has been touched by an artist.

(In winter we may close early due to poor weather or low occupancy)

100 South Ridgeway Ave
Black Mountain, NC 28711



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