Chef Spotlight: Mark Estee, Reno Chef & Restaurateur

Chef Spotlight: Mark Estee, Reno Chef & Restaurateur

By Lila Asnani, Foodable Contributor

Earlier this week, we spoke with Chef Mark Estee, a restaurateur and entrepreneur, who is from Boston but who now happily calls Reno home. Estee owns and operates eight restaurants in the Reno and Lake Tahoe regions. He is also a community leader who is deeply involved with nonprofits in the area. 

Join us as we discover, below, how Estee is taking on the Reno culinary scene and what he has learned in the past 10+ years of being an operator:

Foodable: How and why did you get started in the culinary field?

Mark Estee: I went to a typical college for 3 years trying to be a football star/history teacher and then decided to go to Johnson and Wales culinary school in Providence, RI from 1991-93. 

I knew I had made the right decision because I loved what I was doing. I love that the culinary field changes everyday. It challenges me and my team constantly. We have a great network of people. We all have our jobs and we rely on each other. We’re a family and we hold each other accountable.

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The Midtown District and the Business of Rebranding Reno

The Midtown District and the Business of Rebranding Reno

By Lila Asnani, Foodable Contributor

Big things are happening in the Biggest Little City In The World, or Reno.  Reno is busy reinventing itself. Once known primarily for gambling and winter sports, Reno is developing quickly and gaining attention as it tries to assert its strength as the closest big business hub outside of Northern California, specifically the Bay Area. 

This rejuvenation movement is very visible especially in an area of Reno called the Midtown District (MDR). The MDR is a flourishing neighborhood located just south of Downtown Reno. Previously known as the Bungalow District because of the many Craftsman-style homes, the Midtown District today encompasses a two mile corridor which forms a conglomerate of trendy and fun shops and restaurants.

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Reno Emerges as a Burgeoning Culinary Destination

Reno Emerges as a Burgeoning Culinary Destination

By Allison Levine, Foodable Contributor

There is more to Reno, Nevada than just gambling. For the last three to four years, the Reno food scene has been emerging and at the rate it is going, there is no stopping it.

Reno, the “biggest little city,” is home to approximately 350,000 people (including neighboring Sparks) and you can get anywhere in the city within 15-20 minutes. Reno is centrally located with the mountains only 20 minutes away, San Francisco 3.5 hours away, Sacramento 2 hours away and Las Vegas 7 hours away. Unlike Las Vegas, Reno, sandwiched between Highway 80 and the Truckee River, is located in the high desert and experiences cooler weather.

And, with Nevada being one of the best states for renewable energy and also having one of the largest lithium mines in the US, Reno has been drawing people from San Jose. Apple has had one of the world’s greenest data centers in operation in Reno for the past four years; Tesla is building a $5 billion dollar giga-battery factory that is five million square feet large and will offer 6500 jobs; Reno is one of seven states approved for drone testing which will bring 400 jobs into the area.

With this population growth, it is only natural that food scene in the “biggest little city” is growing as well. The emerging scene includes new ethnic cuisines, barbecue joints and most importantly a focus on local, seasonal ingredients. Arguably one of the leading chefs in the Reno food movement is James Beard nominated Chef Mark Estee. With five restaurants currently in the area, he believes in Reno as a culinary destination.

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