Mark Picone, a pioneer of Niagara cuisine and chef-professor at Niagara College’s Canadian Food and Wine Institute, will be honoured May 23 with the Italian Chamber of Commerce of Ontario (ICCO) Arts, Science and Culture Award.
Picone is also the owner of the Mark Picone Culinary Studio, located at his 10-acre farm in Vineland, where he strives to bridge wine and culinary experiences.
The award, to be presented at the ICCO’s Business Excellence Awards gala in Toronto, recognizes Picone’s leadership and innovation in the culinary industry and his efforts to maintain and foster Italian culture in Ontario.
The prestigious ICCO Business Excellence Awards are presented to the most outstanding and innovative leaders from the business community. The awards celebrate and showcase those individuals who have changed the economic landscape of Ontario, and given a competitive edge to their business.
“Food plays such an important role in the Italian culture, and the passion Chef Picone brings to the industry is really remarkable; this makes him a true leader and pioneer in this sector,” said Corrado Paina, executive director, ICCO.
Picone, who joined Niagara College as a chef-professor in 2005, has a passion for food that began with his family’s business, Picone Fine Foods in Dundas. He trained in fine restaurants in Ontario and abroad in France (Trianon Palace in Versailles, Parraudin in Biarriz,Chef Chamille in Burgundy) and Italy (Antica Dolceria Bonajuto inModica, Ristorante Tivoli in Cortina, Ristorante Arnolfo in Colle di Vald’Elsa). In 1996 he was recruited as the first executive chef at Vineland Estates, where he spent 10 years and made his mark as a pioneer of culinary excellence in Niagara. He has multiple AAA/CAA four-diamond awards, a Fellowship in the Hostelry Institute and DiRoNa recognition. In 2001, he was appointed to the Order of Professional Italian Restaurateurs, a rare distinction outside of Europe, for bringing Italian culinary standard to a new level, and in 2003 he was a guest chef at the James Beard House in New York City, where he showcased Niagara cuisine.
“Through my culinary studio, and through teaching at the Canadian Food and Wine Institute, I strive to uphold strong standards of excellence, the value of excellent training, and the opportunity to create lasting memories through food,” said Picone. “I’m proud and grateful that my work has been recognized by the Italian Chamber of Commerce of Ontario.”
“One of the key strengths of the Canadian Food and Wine Institute is the high level of talent within our faculty,” said Craig Youdale, acting dean of the CFWI. “Chef Picone is a shining example of this – he is among the top culinary talent in Canada, and he brings outstanding experience and very high standards to our classrooms and labs.”
The ICCO is a private, independent, not-for-profit organization whose aim is to enhance and promote investments, business, trade and cultural relations between Canada and Italy. The ICCO’s objective is encapsulated in two overarching themes: Creating connections that matter and l’Italiana.