Mark Peel, Famed Restaurateur And ‘Top Chef’ Judge, Dies At 66

Mark Peel, the influential Los Angeles chef who founded Campanile with his ex-wife Nancy Silverton, died Sunday in Los Angeles. He was 66.

It was reported that he had been diagnosed with an aggressive form of cancer just nine days ago.

Peel appeared on Top Chef Masters and as a judge on Top Chef in 2009 and 2010. Peel also made appearances on Hell’s Kitchen, Knife Fight and Kitchen Nightmares.

Campanile was a favorite among Hollywood power players in the 23 years it was open. The James Beard-winning restaurant stood at 624 South La Brea before closing its doors in 2012. The late, venerated food critic Jonathan Gold wrote of the restaurant, “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 out as a vegetable boy under Wolfgang Puck at Ma Maison. After climbing through the ranks, he left and cooked for Michael’s in Santa Monica, meeting his former wife Nancy Silverton. Peel made his name at Spago creating unique pizzas that highlighted local, fresh ingredients. He added Silverton to the team and, with Puck, made national headlines with his creations.

Peel and Silverton later founded La Brea Bakery, not too far from their Campanile location. The bakery was later sold in 2001, becoming a world-recognized brand.

Peel is survived by three children with Silverton, whom he divorced from in 2004, and two with his wife Daphne Brogdon, who survives him.

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