Mark Peel, 'Top Chef' Judge and Chef, Dead at 66

Mark Peel, the influential longtime Los Angeles chef and restaurateur who appeared as a judge on Top Chef, has died. The famed chef's daughter, Vanessa Silverton-Peel, confirmed to the Los Angeles Times that Peel passed away Sunday afternoon at Kaiser Permanente Los Angeles Medical Center on Sunset Boulevard just nine days after being diagnosed with an aggressive form of cancer. He was 66.

Peel was widely known for his frequent appearances on beloved cooking competitions. He appeared on Top Chef, Bravo's competition series that sees chefs competing against each other in culinary challenges, as a judge in 2009 and 2010. He also made appearances on Hell's Kitchen, Knife Fight, and Kitchen Nightmares. Along with making appearances on a number of popular cooking shows and competitions, Peel also authored and co-authored several cookbooks, including New Classic Family Dinners as well as Mark Peel & Nancy Silverton At Home: Two Chefs Cook for Family and Friends and The Food of Campanile, which he co-authored with his ex-wife Nancy Silverton, who he co-founded the James Beard-award winning restaurant Campanile with.

Located at 624 South La Brea, Campanile introduced the concept of farm-to-table to Los Angeles diners. It was a favorite among Hollywood elites. When Campanile closed in 2012 after 23 years of business, 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's began his cooking career in 1975 when he worked for chef-restaurateur Wolfgang Puck at Ma Maison, first starting as a vegetable boy and working his way up to assistant chef. He later helped Puck open Spago in West Hollywood in 1982. He went on to cook at Michael's, where he met his former wife, before moving on to Chez Panisse and later Spago. Peel and Silverton eventually founded La Brea Bakery, which was sold in 2001. The former couple divorced in 2004. Peel is survived by his five children – three whom he shares with Silverton and two with his wife Daphne Brogdon, who also survives him. His death is being mourned by his fellow chefs online, with Andrew Zimmerman calling Peel "a pioneer in so many ways."