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Essex People: Talking to Chef and Entrepreneur, Mark Peters

Mark PetersMark Peters, chef and founder of Just Imagine Foods, is a passionate advocate of using seasonal, sustainable and locally-sourced food to create his beautiful dishes for clients of his event catering and private chef service.

Each dish is like a work of art and he is keen to share his love of food and his skills ~ he will soon be joining the Braxted Park Cookery School team near Witham in Essex, who run a wonderful selection of cookery courses, with some very fine chefs as teachers.

Not only can you have cookery classes with him, but he and his team of hand-picked chefs are also available to hire for private functions ~ can you imagine having a menu specifically designed to incorporate all your favourite foods and cooked and served by a Michelin Star trained chef in your own home? What a happy thought.  I caught up with Mark to chat about one of his (and my) favourite subjects. Food.

What makes your business different from other catering companies? 

I have waited 25 years for the right time to start my business…the time when I have enough experience in business management, food trends, the catering business, knowing what my customers want and life in general.

I am doing what I do because I love it.  I love food and I love happy customers. I am not in it just to be “the boss” or to say “ I have my own business”.

What makes me different, is my adaptability and open mindedness as to what I can achieve within the company. Event catering, private catering, chef hire, demonstrations, consultancy, menu development, corporate launches ~ all are intertwined and one can lead to another. This is not to say I will take on any job to do with food! It has to be really high quality food, as that is my passion.

I use my experience, my surroundings and imagination to create dishes. And of course, trial and error!

Mark Peters, Just Imagine Foods, Essex

What new developments have you got planned?

There always seems to be a lot happening! The recent partnership with The Grove Cottages in Suffolk and Essex is very exciting and will bring terrific opportunities to cater privately for clients in beautiful holiday cottages in lovely surroundings.

I also have the pleasure of collaborating with Braxted Park Cookery School and I will be delivering cookery courses throughout 2013. My first class will be ‘Fine Dining at Home‘ and I have also started offering private cookery lessons in people’s homes.

What kind of food do people ask for the most?

My clients often get ideas from my picture gallery on my website and will ask for specific dishes that they see there. This is nice for any chef to have their own creations chosen. In general I would say fish and healthy salads feature strongly, along with “naughty” chocolate desserts as a treat!

Mark Peters, Essex

What or who is your inspiration for your work as a chef?

My late father is always “somewhere” to guide me and as with most things in my life, I seek his “approval” before taking anything on!

I have one particular chef who I admire: Sergio Herman who works in Holland. The Michelin starred chefs that I have been lucky enough to work with have given me 25 years of experience and helped me get to where I am today.

You say that cooking is a mixture of science and art – can you explain how you approach devising a new recipe or putting a menu together?

I could talk for ages about my menu compilations but I’ll keep it brief! Key things that I think about when compiling menus: using ingredients that are in season, locally sourced, sustainable, healthy and well balanced throughout the meal.

I always try to imagine the finished dish, the textures, the general look and how it can look appetizing and colourful on the plate. The science comes in when thinking about the cooking methods,  complexity and timing.

Mark Peters, Essex

What is your favorite dish?

Sergio Herman’s dish ‘Sea and Land’ looks amazing and the elements so fine and natural.

Tuna tartar at Kampa Park Restaurant in Prague was one of the most beautiful dishes I have eaten.

What is your favourite ingredient and why?

Oysters from Mersea, near Colchester. Great fresh from the sea and straight out of the shell, but versatile if you use your imagination. Any freshly line caught fish. It is nature and to have the smell of the sea is amazing…. it inspires me.

Have you got a most memorable moment relating to your business?

Most memorable was my first assignment in consultancy … it gave me confidence to take the business further and a great feeling knowing you have made a difference.


What three things do you like most about living in Essex?

Essex has some hidden gems, which are so close… its just knowing where they are. Lovely pubs, restaurants and countryside to relax and gain inspiration from.

Where is your favourite place to eat?

I love eating at The Starr in Great Dunmow…. Lovely fresh fish and local food. Impeccable service too.

Favourite place to go for a walk? 

I enjoy Mersea, The marshes of Tollesbury and Salcott. Anywhere near the sea really!

What is your favourite Essex event of the year and why?

Definitely the Essex Food Festival and I have the pleasure of demonstrating there in 2013. I always meet great people there and see some fantastic local food companies from Essex, Suffolk and Norfolk.

The V Festival is also a must as it’s rude to miss anything to do with music!

What’s your favourite Essex tipple?

Slamsey’s fruit gin – I discovered these beautiful drinks at last year’s food show and apart from being lovely to drink, they also make great ingredients for desserts.


Most fun fact about yourself?

I am obsessed with music and it is always on …as I wake, as I work, as I go to sleep!

Thought for the day/philosophy on life?

Free your mind for at least an hour a day… make time to do nothing.

On life… you live it once (apparently!) so enjoy every minute you can.

Dream … as life is nothing without a dream.

If you would like to book Mark for an event or cookery lesson, please visit his website. You can also follow him on Facebook and Twitter. If you have eaten some of Mark’s food or have been on one of his courses and would like to leave a comment, please feel free to do so below, we would love to hear from you.

You can follow the Essex Guide on Facebook and Twitter.





Written by Karina